On June 22-24, the 5th international Fish Passage conference will be held in the city of Groningen, the Netherlands. It is for the first time the conference takes place in Europa.

According to Herman Wanningen, who has brought the conference to Europe, the interest is overwhelming. The programme includes 230 presentations from experts from all over the world and 550 visitors will attend. The conference is fully booked.

dws-fish-passage-2015-poster-350px"When we had the first talks with our American colleges on bringing the conference to Europe, we assumed 300 visitors would be the maximum. But apparently the issue of fish migration is a very hot topic in Europe as well", says Wanningen on the eve of the conference.

Many renowned speakers
Herman Wanningen was the initiator of the first ever World Fish Migration Day in 2014. The next celebration day will be in 2016 and while discussing the potentials for a major event in 2015, he invited his American colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to hold the next Fish passage conference in Groningen, the Netherlands.

"We have managed to create an exciting programme with renowned keynote speakers and many top experts on a wide range of topics, including dam removal, fish passage evaluation and construction, river restoration and many more", Wanningen continues.

dws-fish-passage-2015-wanningen-350pxHerman Wanningen hopes the conference will trigger a debate on the removal of old and abandoned dams in Europe, following the example of the US.

Cost-effective measures
Wanningen thinks the European interest for fish migration has to do with the requirement to implement the European Water Framework Directive. This directive calls for good ecological status for all water bodies across Europe by 2027.

The diversity of fish species is an important criterion for this status, so all European countries are now seeking cost effective measures to restore fish migration.

Wanningen: "European countries have different policies and it will be interesting to hear how they are progressing with improving river connectivity and what they have learned."

Removal of dams
Personally Wanningen is very interested in the presentations on dam removal. "This is very topical in the US where many dams are ageing and need serious attention. The federal government and states have little money and since many old dam are now abandoned or dis-used, it is cheaper to remove them", Wanningen explains.

dws-fish-passage-2015-afsluitdijk-impression-350px  Impression of the 5 km long fish migration river that is to become part of the closure dam Afsluitdijk, the Netherlands by 2017.

"It will be interesting to see how the European attendees at the conference will react to the presentations by the American peers on this topic. In Europe there are also many old and abandoned dams and from a water quality perspective it will be interesting to start removing these in Europe as well."

Top of the bill
During the conference also a key presentation will  be held on the new 5 km long fish migration river that will be constructed in the closure dam Afsluitdijk in the Netherlands.

Wanningen expects that the design will receive much attention at the conference. "It is a unique construction for a coastal passage from salt to fresh water. We are still working on the details of the construction and I hope we will be able to discuss some of these details with the top experts attending the conference."

Read also on this website
First World Fish Migration Day celebrated on 257 locations, on all continents, 19 May 2014

More information
5th Fish Passage conference (fully booked)

World Fish Migration Day