The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) organized the forum on Fish Protection and Downstream Fish Migration for three years as part of an R&D project of the Environmental Research Plan of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). Ecologic Institute provided content and organizational support for the forum on behalf of the Federal Environment Agency. The forum included members from federal and regional water resource management authorities, NGOs, consultancies, water managers and hydropower.
The issue of fish protection and downstream fish migration, both from an environmental policy perspective and a technical point of view, has gained increasing attention. The Federal Environment Agency with the support from the Ecologic Institute established the Forum "Fish Protection and Downstream Migration", a forum that spanned three years. This project was funded within the framework of the German Environmental Research Plan.
The Forum aimed at triggering a wide-ranging discussion and information exchange and developing a common understanding of the latest scientific information and technology on different themes of fish protection and downstream migration.
Until 2012, the goal of the EC Water Framework Directive – the good ecological status – had been reached in less than 10% of all European rivers. The reason for this was mostly based on the poor state of fish populations due to limited watercourse connectivity. In addition, different pressures from users result in direct damage to fish. Therefore, almost the entire river network needs measures to improve the upstream and downstream flow watercourse connectivity. Downstream migration was particularly controversial from an environmental policy point of view as well as for technical reasons. At the same time, legal requirements lead to pressure to act. The issues that emerge from the discussion on fish protection and downstream migration were numerous and require both environmental policy and technical answers.
Within the Forum, existing problems were identified, initial solutions proposed and the demand for research and action formulated. The Forum had an opening event and a closing conference and centered on five thematic key topics which were explored during the five workshops.
The core issues in connection with the problem of fish protection and downstream migration were:
- Environmental policy and legal framework
- River basin-related strategies
- Behavioral and population biology
- Technical measures for fish protection and downstream migration
- Additional protection measures and monitoring