At the beginning of February, Stefan Spahn, Department Manager at the German Anglers Association (Deutscher Angelfischerverband e.V. - DAFV), handed over a petition to the Rhine Ministerial Conference in Amsterdam demanding a ban on commercial net fishing around the Haringvliet dam, in the estuary of the Rhine river. Mr. Spahn was accompanied by Fred Bloot, President of the European Anglers Alliance (EAA), which is a prominent supporters of the petition.
After their confluence, the Rhine, the Meuse and the Merwede rivers flow into the North Sea via Haringvliet. The dam hereby located is one of the biggest in Europe and locks have been routinely opened since 2018 to allow the passage of migratory fish. Further opening of the Haringvliet dam was realised thanks to a joint effort of the Rhine riparian countries to facilitate both upstream and downstream fish migration. However, these efforts are doomed to fail if commercial net fishing is allowed to continue in the Haringvliet.
A petition demanding a ban on net fishing in the estuary was already submitted by the DAFV and 23 other organizations to the Dutch Parliament in November 2019. The two identical petitions have contributed to sparking a debate around fish migration and river connectivity. Migration is an essential step of the life cycle of many fish species which are born in rivers, grow up at sea and as adult swim back to the river to spawn. Barriers such as dams block fish from swimming up and downstream hindering their reproduction process.
In the picture: Fred Bloot, President of the EAA, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management and Stefan Spahn, Secretary-General DAFV
Anglers across Europe work extensively to restore habitats and to remove barriers to allow rivers to flow freely and to facilitate migration for important and vulnerable fish species such as salmon, trout and eel. On top of that, anglers manage several restocking programs with the objective of rebuilding depleted stocks. However, more effort is needed and in this case a fishing ban is essential to protect migratory fish from going extinct. More actions and resources are also needed to restore spawning habitats, to naturalise rivers and to undertake population assessments.
Cooperation between countries and between different angling organisations is crucial when dealing with important transnational issues such as river connectivity and fish protection as fish do not care about borders and healthy fish can only thrive in healthy rivers.
More information on the petition is available on the DAFV website
The petition is supported by:
1. Deutscher Angelfischerverband e.V.
2. European Anglers Alliance
3. Wanderfische ohne Grenzen - NASF Deutschland e.V
4. World Fish Migration Foundation
5. European Rivers Network
6. Der Atlantische Lachs e.V.
7. Wanderfische Baden-Württemberg GmbH
8. Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland
9. Deutscher Naturschutzring
10. WWF Schweiz
11. Schweizerischer Fischereiverband
12. Alsace Nature France
13. Bundesverband Bürgerinitiativen Umweltschutz e.V.
14. WWF Deutschland
15. Aqua Viva Schweiz
16. Association Saumon-Rhin France
17. Fischereiverband Nordrhein-Westfalen e.V.
18. Verband Hessischer Fischer e.V.
19. Landesfischereiverband Baden-Württemberg e.V.
20. Stiftung Wasserlauf
21. Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V.
22. Landesverband Westfälischer Angelfischer e.V.
23. Landesfischereiverband Westfalen und Lippe e.V.
24. Rheinischer Fischereiverband von 1880 e.V