On 28 October, the RecFishing Forum hosted a webinar on biodiversity, hydropower and migratory fish, co-chaired by MEP Carmen Avram and MEP Michal Wiezik. In view of the Biodiversity Strategy roll-out, panellists and more than 50 participants discussed the impacts of hydropower, dams and small weirs on freshwater biodiversity, especially on migratory fish species.
Participants discussed at length the Commission’s objective to restore 25,000 km of rivers into free-flowing rivers by 2030, highlighting the 93% collapse in migratory freshwater fish populations in Europe since 1970. One of the solutions mentioned during the webinar was dam removal to end fragmentation of rivers. The European Anglers Alliance and the European Environmental Bureau, both represented in the roundtables, called for the EU to stop funding to new hydropower installations, including funding from the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, advising to reallocate this money to refurbishment of existing hydropower plants and dam removal.
“Energy production does not always represent an overriding public interest. A careful assessment is necessary to avoid irreversible biodiversity loss.” – MEP Michal Wiezik
“There is a need to both protect the environment and mitigate the effects of climate change. This means developing hydropower to reach the decarbonisation targets but with careful consideration for the impact on the environment.” – MEP Carmen Avram
“European rivers are still not in good ecological status, notably due to the hydro-morphological pressures. This further endangers the resilience to climate change and the capacity to sustain wildlife.” – Mark Owen, Head of Freshwater, Angling Trust
“It is possible to achieve climate neutrality and ambitious climate goals, without reliance on new hydropower capacity.” – Sergiy Moroz, Policy Manager for Water and Biodiversity, European Environmental Bureau
“The Commission is preparing to help, support and provide guidance to Member States, notably on which obstacles to prioritise by carrying out cost-benefit analysis.” – Bettina Doeser, Head of Clean Water Unit, DG ENV