Anglers’ petition on migratory fishes in the Rhine estuary: a positive step

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27 Aug

In February 2020, Stefan Spahn, Department Manager of 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. In July, the Dutch Minister for Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Ms. Carola Schouten has announced in a letter to the House of Representatives that she wants to set up a 1,500 meter long protection zone near the Haringvliet dam in order to provide better protection for endangered migratory fish such as salmon and sturgeon

The petition, submitted last February with the support of the European Anglers Alliance and in close coordination with Sportvisserij Nederland (the Dutch angling association) called for a ban on commercial net fishing around the Haringvliet dam and a thorough, independent research into the zone's impact on migratory fish recovery.The petition had already been formally introduced in November 2019. 


In this picture: Fred Bloot, President of the EAA, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management and Stefan Spahn, Secretary-General DAFV



A recent report found that migratory freshwater fish species have experienced a worrying decline over the last 50 years and dams are pointed out as having a major impact by blocking both migration and spawning. Europe’s rivers are particularly affected by more than 20,000 existing hydropower plants and more than 8,000 additional ones to be built in the upcoming years. The Haringvliet dam in the Rhine estuary is a concrete example of barriers to fish migration. 
 
The transition from salt to fresh water and vice versa requires physiological adaptations of the fish. It can take days to weeks before the fish can swim through the ajar lock gates of the Haringvliet dam. A spacious protection zone around the Haringvliet dam should now ensure that migratory fish find the necessary peace and quiet to "acclimate" themselves during this period. However, the signatory organisations also consider it extremely important that an independent study is conducted to evaluate the effects of the zone on the recovery of migratory fish. This evaluation should show whether the 1,500-meter-long protection zone will indeed allow fishes to migrate safely between the sea and the river. 



Haringvliet dam
Photo Credit: RIJKSWATERSTAAT


Among the signatories of the petition were 23 national and international angling, environmental and nature conservation associations from Germany, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland. This joint initiative recalls that angling and nature conservation and angling are compatible and that anglers a common interest in protecting waters, species and habitats. Through close cooperation, it should be ensured that endangered migratory fish stocks in Europe can recover and that sustainable angling can take place in an intact ecosystem in the future.

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