Swedish Court Ruling on Fish Passage and Water Flow - A Major Win for Fish and Anglers

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10 Mar

The Swedish member of EAA, 'Sportfiskarna' has achieved a major win at the high court on environmental issues in Sweden ('Miljööverdomstolen'). A lower court had permitted a hydropower plant company to refurbish without securing fish passage and adequate water flow, which would be "costly" and "not necessary" as no migrating fish live in these waters, it was argued.

However, Sportfiskarna appealed that ruling arguing among other things that the ruling runs counter to the EU Water Framework Directive's provision on “good ecological status”. Furthermore, not only fish which migrates from and to sea- and fresh water should be considered "migrating fish species" (e.g. salmon and trout). Other freshwater fish species need migrating space too, within the river basin.

The higher court agreed on both counts, and also that the hydropower company should regulate the water flow differently during the year to mimic the natural flow.

This ruling is very important for fish and anglers in Sweden. A game changer for Sweden - and maybe for Europe as well. Angling organisations accross Europe should take notice of this ruling and make use of it in their campaigning.

EAA has for a number of years promoted "correct" interpretation and implementation of the Water Framework Directive. The directive went into force in December 2000. It has been an uphill battle to have fish recognised as a prominent part of the "good ecological status" for water, but things are moving in the right direction these years it seems. A few years ago it was not even made evidently clear that fishes' migration is important not only upstream but also downstream. Today this is "common sense" thanks to our lobbying efforts.

The Swedish court ruling stresses another important migration aspect, which we also have promoted for years, namely that not only "traditional migrators" like salmon, trout and eel need moving space to fullfill their life cycle and to sustain healthy and resilient stocks - about all freshwater fish species need moving space.




EAA has made a campaign film showing some of the damages done to fish and the environment by hydropower and dams.



The film is available in English, German and French
The English version gives you the possibility to choose among subtitles in English, Danish or Italian.
Slovenian subtitles: choose this version

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