Ten countries unite for protection of migratory fish in the Danube River | WWF
Ten countries unite for protection of migratory fish in the Danube River

Posted on 01 October 2018

Joining forces to improve access to habitats and promote the establishment of ecological corridors
Vienna - Ten countries along the Danube (Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine) are joining forces to conserve endangered migratory fish species in the Danube river basin by identifying and improving access to habitats and promoting the establishment of ecological corridors.

Key stakeholders and international partners gathered in Vienna this week for a kick-off meeting of the MEASURES project which will focus on managing and restoring aquatic ecological corridors for migratory fish species in the Danube River Basin.

“The Danube is a key lifeline in Europe connecting important bioregions, economies and cultures. Securing biodiversity is fundamental to human development and rivers are one of the most threatened ecosystems on our globe. Our project contributes to these challenges specifically for the Danube River in its role as an important ecological corridor connecting natural heritage sites and an organism group key to a sustainable future of the river, migratory fish including sturgeon species”, said Univ. Prof. Dr. Thomas Hein, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna.
 
The Danube is home to some of the most important sturgeon and other migratory fish populations (e.g. shads, barbel, nase etc.). Bulgaria and Romania hold the only – still – viable populations of wild sturgeons in the European Union. The remaining populations have faced a dramatic decline in the past due to man-made barriers that prevent their migration and their ability to spawn, such as dams or hydropower plants. These barriers fragment the natural habitats of migratory fish, making it impossible for fish to move up or downstream to spawn or reach feeding grounds. In the long term, these barriers, along with other anthropogenic human activities such as overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction, will lead to the extinction of the species unless action is taken now.

The Danube and its tributaries are key migration routes for sturgeons and other migratory fish, such as barbel and nase. These species are excellent bio-indicators of the effectiveness of ecological corridors due to their specific needs during their long lifecycles. This is especially true of sturgeons, which typically migrate long distances and are an important part of the natural heritage of the entire Danube Region.
 
About the MEASURES project
 
The MEASURES project was officially launched on October 1st 2018 in Austria.  The project is EU-funded and will lay the foundation to establish ecological corridors by identifying key habitats and by initiating transboundary protection measures along the Danube and its main tributaries. During the three-year implementation timeline, the innovative actions will focus on development, testing new methodologies, strategies for restoring ecological corridors and supporting implementation in future management plans, and restocking of two native species to conserve their genetic pool in Hungary (Acipenser ruthenus) and Romania (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii).
 
The MEASURES project started in June 2018 and is scheduled to end in May 2021.
For more information, visit the project website: www.interreg-danube.eu/measures.
Sturgeon
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