Creating a Movement to Save Migratory Fish from Local to Global
Thursday, April 30, 2020
10:00 am Eastern Time
Founder and Creative Director, World Fish Migration Foundation
Ongoing river fragmentation and dam construction are two of the greatest global threats to freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Hence, migratory fish around the world are severely threatened. Dams are blocking these fish while they need to migrate to reproduce, feed and complete their life cycles. They make up a crucial link in the food chain and play an important ecological role in productive river systems. Furthermore, they provide an important food supply and livelihood for millions of people around the world. These migratory routes are called swimways. Some species like Atlantic Eel and the Goliath Catfish (Amazon River) have swimways of around 11.000km. For the existence of these fish it’s crucial that these swimways are open and provide habitat to breed and reproduce.
The World Fish Migration Foundation was founded in 2014 to save migratory fish in rivers, from local to global. WFMF brings global attention to the problems and the solutions and provide tools to river practitioners to preserve and to open swimways. In 2014 the foundation initiated the first World Fish Migration Day (WFMD) with a partnership of 6 organizations (WWF, The Nature Conservancy, eg). WFMD is bi-annual event which starts in New Zealand and follows the sun around the world, ending on Hawaii. The central message “Connecting fish, rivers and people” is used to connect sites around the world. The last edition in April 2018 hosted 570 local events organized by over 3000 organizations. The WFMD created a growing movement around migratory fish. It helps to reach students, teachers, resource managers, commercial and recreational anglers, as well as those who influence public policies. After 3 editions the global reach is 50-70 million people through (social) media. The fourth edition is planned for May 16, 2020.
Recent reports from Europe and the USA conclude that the removal of dams is a very effective ecological restoration measure as rivers recover faster than expected after dam removal. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly clear that dam removal is often a cost-effective measure. For these reasons the World Fish Migration Foundation and six partners started the Dam Removal Europe Movement in 2016. The ambition is to make dam removal a viable option for river management and to restore fish populations. After 4 years the development of this movement is a success and now we want the scale this up through channelizing funding and reach out to a bigger audience by starting crowd funding campaigns for dam removals. The ultimate ambition is to use the experiences from the USA and Europe and create a global dam removal movement.
Herman Wanningen is founder and creative director of the World Fish Migration Foundation (WFMF). With a strong background in water management and aquatic ecology, he has developed a successful career in fish passage over the past 20 years. He is leading the efforts on developing fish migration visions and policies at a global scale. Herman facilitates and activates communication between the worldwide fish migration expert community, key-decision makers and policy makers. He gives advice on national and international fish passage and river connectivity projects such as the Fish Migration River project (The Netherlands), Dam Removal Europe and AMBER Horizon2020 project. This last project aims to map all barriers in European rivers and to provide management tools.
Herman is known on the international stage for developing the World Fish Migration Day (2014, 2016 and 2018), organizing international conferences and developing fish migration networks. In 2018 over 3000 local and regional organizations organized 570 events in 63 countries. Herman is coordinator and co-author of three international From Sea to Source books on fish migration. He has won an award for his management of the successful Fish Passage conference in 2015 in Groningen. He is manager of the World Fish Migration Day 2020 and recently became Fellow under the Mulago Fund Program.