Salmon, Habitat and the Rhine
One hundred years ago, the Rhine was the largest salmon river in Europe. Every year, millions of salmon swam from the estuary in the Netherlands to the smallest tributaries in Germany, France and Switzerland. In Switzerland, it was present in all larger rivers and waters on the northern side of the Alps, including the Rhine, Aare, Limmat and Thur. For centuries, the fish was an important food source for humans and animals and an essential part of a diverse ecosystem.
Since the 1950s, the Atlantic salmon in the Rhine has been extinct. Due to pollution, overfishing and barriers in the rivers. Salmon swim up to 5,000 kilometres to lay their eggs in Greenland, where they were once born. However, the end station is now the hydroelectric power plants near Strasbourg in France. In the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland, fish ladders already make the long journey possible. The last French mile has yet to be bridged, despite decades of international agreements and treaties.
WWF and other (Swiss) organisations are organising the ‘Salmon-Comeback’ project. This project is not only about salmon. It symbolises the entire habitat along and in the Rhine. If salmon are doing well, the river, other waters and all animals are doing well. (Source and further information: www.lachscomeback.ch and www.wwf.ch).