Initiative calls for protection of fish

Fish stocks in Swiss rivers are slowly dwindling RTS

The Swiss Fishermen’s Association has launched an initiative aimed at protecting the country’s dwindling fish stocks.

This content was published on January 21, 2005 - 12:34

It also calls for fishing and environmental organisations to be given more legal say in environmental issues.

Werner Widmer, the association’s president, said on Friday that fish were rapidly disappearing from Swiss waterways.

“Since 1980 the amount of trout caught has dropped by 60 per cent in Switzerland and in the Rhine and 16 of the 17 fish species are threatened with extinction,” said Widmer.

“In Switzerland many natural waterways have been corrected and artificial barriers been erected, so fish cannot reach their spawning grounds,” he added.

Another problem, says Widmer, is pollution and the fact that hydroelectric plants often change water levels, which cause fish stress.

And some cantons are not upholding their legal obligation to keep the country’s waterways clean, added Widmer.

Cantonal funding

The initiative wants to ensure that Swiss waterways are restored and cleaned up to give back the fish their natural habitat – a move that would be funded by the cantons.

It also calls for fishing and environmental groups to be given an increased right of appeal on environmental matters and that this be placed in the Swiss constitution.

But the Swiss Association of Water Management has distanced itself from the fishermen’s initiative.

It said on Friday that the move was one-sided and prevented proper sustainability. It added that the legal and financial consequences of such an initiative were likely to be grave.

The “living water” initiative needs 100,000 signatures by the beginning of July 2006 if it is to go to a nationwide vote.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

In Switzerland trout catch has been dwindling by 60% since 1980.
16 of 17 domestic fish species are likely to become extinct.
The Swiss Fishermen’s Association was founded 1883.
It represents 36,000 fishermen and their interests.

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