I first came in contact with the ICPDR a few years ago, when I was brought in as a nervous outsider to moderate a conference of high caliber insiders from across the Danube River Basin.
I grew up on the California coast and had been living in Santa Barbara until my broadcasting career and my Austrian girlfriend brought me to Vienna and I became a denizen of the Danube.
My preparations for that first ICPDR event, and then being able to witness the work of so many passionate experts, allowed me to dive into a Danube that had been right in front of me for years, but I never really saw. The history, the complexity, the vitality, and the beauty washed over me and I´ve never been the same since.
I now make it a priority to spend as much time as possible along, at, on, and in the Danube. Highlights from the past few months include sunrise runs past Melk, all-day cycling tours through the spectacular Wachau Valley, and sunset swims and stand-up paddleboarding in the old-arm of the Danube in Greifenstein.
After learning about the importance of fish passages at an ICPDR conference, visits to Greifenstein became especially interesting and gratifying. My wife and I (yes! I married the girlfriend who brought me to the DRB) often visit the little bridge there that spans the fish passage.
At another recent ICPDR event I was thrilled to learn about the progress being made on re-establishing upstream and downstream fish migration past the Iron Gates. It was humbling to see the years of work that have gone into this ambitious project and exciting to hear that success for our fish friends is now feasible within the foreseeable future.
I also learned about an ICPDR boardgame designed to educate children about the challenges of migratory fish in the Danube. Creating a game to inform and engage young people is a wonderful initiative. I´m also a fan because, by happy coincidence, the game tracks the travels of Sturgeon Steve.
Sadly, sturgeon and other fish species in the Danube are still facing existential threats. But happily, it´s not too late for some species, and solutions are at hand to help them recover and re-establish migratory routes through the Danube. If success is achieved, it will be thanks to the work being done by the great scientists, the stakeholders and the policymakers allied with the ICPDR. Fans like me are applauding you and cheering for Sturgeon Steve and his friends.