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 2016, more than 8000 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.
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
In the Netherlands, continuity will be improved by partly opening the Haringvliet sluices with a fish-friendly sluice regime. 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. In 2015 the fish passage in Strasbourg was put into service.
- 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 8000 adult salmon returning and migrating upstream the Rhine system. More than 1000 of them used the new fish passage at Iffezheim, 700 km upstream the estuary.