Salmon return to Switzerland after 50 years
On 5 October 2008 a 91 centimeter-long female salmon was caught and then released in the Upper Rhine at Basel, Switzerland. This is the first caught since the late 50s!
The Federal Office for the Environment FOEN (Switzerland) is delighted that salmon are returning from the North Sea all the way back to Switzerland. Since the 1980s, the water quality in the Rhine through united efforts of the riparian countries (Germany, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland) has greatly improved. There were several revitalization measures underway on the ecosystem of the Rhine and many of its earlier ranges of animals and plants are recovering.
There are still however many barriers for the salmon to ascend and together with the other members of the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR) Switzerland is working on installing fish passes in the remaining barriers.
Switzerland has many miles of headwaters and very suitable suitable spawning grounds, especially in the river Birse and salmon could be there in the coming months to spawn.
Originally salmon were common in the rivers Aare, Reuss, Limmat, Birse, Meadow, Thur and Saane as well as in their home tributaries. In 1915 more than 1,000 salmon were caught in the Canton of Aargau alone. Through the construction of power plants along the river Hochrhein the fish have been prevented from reaching their spawning areas and by the end of the 1950s, salmon disappeared completely from Swiss waters.
Now after a gap of over 50 years they are back.
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