ICPR – International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine

ICPR adopts Rhine Monitoring Programme Biology at its Plenary Assembly in Vienna

At the annual plenary assembly of the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR) on 30 June 2023, President Miriam Haritz from Germany and Co-Chair and host Günter Liebel from Austria received the nine delegation well as recognised observers, including NGOs, in Vienna.

The Rhine Monitoring Programme Biology 2024/2025 was adopted at the meeting. Every six years, the ICPR investigates within the context of an international monitoring campaign how five important bio-indicators (phytoplankton, benthic diatoms, macrophytes, macrozoobenthos and fish fauna) have developed along the Rhine. The results provide information on the ecological status of the Rhine and will be taken into account when reporting on the implementation of the Water Framework Directive in the Rhine river basin.

On the occasion of this new measuring campaign, some delegations will contribute to research programmes by providing water samples for later analysis with eDNA (abbreviation of "environmental DNA"). This methodology involves the detection of DNA, i.e. genetic material, in the environment, e.g. in the water of a river. This allows conclusions to be drawn about the species found there. The methodology is an important complement to conventional sampling and is well suited to detecting the spread of invasive species in the Rhine river basin at an early stage, for example.

Furthermore, the ICPR has announced that - in coordination with the states in the Rhine river basin and the European Union - in April 2023, it has commissioned a study to evaluate the development of the population of the salmon in the Rhine river basin. In recent years, the number of salmon returners has not increased as much as expected given the measures that have been implemented. The new study is therefore primarily intended to provide information on the possible causes - including low water and predators - and to formulate proposed measures to optimise the resettlement efforts.

At the same time, progress is being made in restoring the ecological continuity of the southern Upper Rhine. At the dams in Rhinau and Marckolsheim, the construction of fish passes has started in autumn 2022 and June 2023, respectively, as the French delegation announced.

Contact person for queries

International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR)
Marc Daniel Heintz

Background information

In the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR), Switzerland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the European Union have been working together for 70 years on the basis of a convention under international law to reconcile the diverse uses and protection of water bodies. With a view to implementing European directives, the cross-border cooperation was extended to Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy and the Belgian region Wallonia.

At present (2023-2025), Miriam Haritz from Germany holds the ICPR presidency. She and the different ICPR fora are supported by the international staff of the permanent secretariat in Koblenz (Germany).

See also https://twitter.com/ICPRhine and https://www.linkedin.com/company/international-commission-for-the-protection-of-the-rhine.