Rhine salmon are not yet independent of human help and stocking exercises. But they already reproduce naturally in several tributaries to the Lower, Middle and Upper Rhine. By the end of 2005, more than 3000 adult salmon were proved to have migrated upstream the Rhine and its tributaries to spawn and reproduce. This raises hopes that almost stable wild salmon populations may be achieved in the Rhine system by the year 2020.
„Salmon 2020“ is part of the ICPR-programme „Rhine 2020” for the sustainable development of the Rhine and continues the successful programme Salmon 2000.
With Salmon 2020, the following visions are supposed to become true:
- Vision: Several thousands of salmon in the Rhine
The list of suitable salmon habitats in the Rhine tributaries has become considerably longer. Therefore, the hope of the ICPR to achieve a larger salmon population than what was calculated only five years ago seems to be justified. Careful estimate: 7,000 to 21,000 upstream migrating salmon.
- Vision: Free upstream migration for salmon as far as Basel
Since 2001, three new fish passages have been opened in the Rhine delta. Numerous weirs have been changed or lowered in the tributaries to the Lower, Middle, Upper and High Rhine. On the Upper Rhine, the Iffezheim fish passage was put into service in 2000. In 2006, the second huge fish passage opened its gates at Gambsheim.
- Vision: Salmon stocking is self-sustaining
During the past five years, some 11 million juvenile salmon have been released into the Rhine catchment. Partly, they are the descendants of returning adult salmon.
- Vision: Wild salmon in the Rhine in 2020
The return of salmon from the ocean and, above all, their natural reproduction prove the success of this programme. Since 1990 evidence has been given of more than 3000 adult salmon returning and migrating upstream the Rhine system. More than 500 of them used the new fish passage at Iffezheim, 700 km upstream the estuary.