Organized by the World Fish Migration Foundation, this one-day global initiative calls attention to the needs of migratory fish to ensure that more natural river networks remain connected, and those already fragmented can be restored.
World Fish Migration Day (WFMD) raises awareness for the needs of migratory fish such as catfish, eel, sturgeons, salmon and others support the diets and livelihoods of millions of people worldwide. Of particular importance of the Danube River Basin are sturgeons – the ICPDR has adopted the sturgeons, of which six species were native to the DRB, as flagship species.
Migratory fish face a number of threats. Physical barriers — including dams, weirs and sluices — are one of the most widespread challenges for these species. In addition to blocking migratory paths, these man-made structures disrupt the natural flow of rivers, which is critical fish spawning. Migratory species depend on open rivers and natural pulses of water to reproduce, feed and complete their life cycles.
The main goal of WFMD is to improve the public’s understanding of the importance of migratory fish, the need for healthy rivers, the communities that depend on both, and the options we have to minimize or avoid impacts. WFMD will be marked by events ranging from educational tours of river restoration projects to global inaugurations of “fishways” that help migratory species bypass water infrastructure. Family and educational events will also include celebrations at zoos and aquariums worldwide, drawing and coloring contests, and kayak tours.
Global celebrations will begin in New Zealand and, following the sun, finish on the west coast of North America. Many organizations will open their doors for the public on May 21, offering a view into special work and projects related to fish migration and river restoration. The ICPDR is supporting WFMD and three events in held on this occasion in the Danube River Basin, most significantly a scientific conference held in Bratislava on 20 May.
Sturgeons are sensitive to environmental pressures and therefore valuable indicators for healthy rivers. This is why the ICPDR has endorsed sturgeons as flagship species. There are six species of sturgeons native in the Danube River Basin, but the survival of these ancient fish is threatened by a range of issues. Through the "Danube Sturgeon Task Force", the ICPDR contributes to actions such as the protection of habitats, the development of migration aids, the breeding of healthy stocks in sheltered facilities, or the struggle against illegal fishing and caviar trade.