Crayfish plague leads to Swiss fishing ban

Officials have banned fishing in the Lucelle River in Switzerland and parts of France because of a water mold that has wiped out the the most significant Swiss population of white-clawed crayfish.

Crayfish plague leads to Swiss fishing ban
Endangered white-clawed crayfish at risk of becoming extinct in Swityerland. Photo: David Gerke

The decision announced on Thursday outlaws fishing in sections of the river that run through the cantons of Jura, Basel-Country and Solothurn, as well as neighbouring France.

The environment office of the canton of Jura said the ban was introduced after a night-time check of the river, which runs along the French border for 12 kilometres and eventually empties into the Birse River in Basel-Country.

Scientists have concluded the river is completely contaminated by crayfish plague, a mold that infects crayfish, killing them within a few weeks.

On Monday, Basel-Country’s department of health and the economy ordered fishers using the Lucelle River to disinfect their rods, tackle and other equipment before fishing in other rivers.

The concern is that the crayfish plaque will spread to other rivers.

The Jura cantonal environment office said it was “counting on all citizens not enter under any pretext into the river bed of the Lucelle,” the ATS news agency reported.

The office added that it is imperative that animals, such as dogs, not bathe in the river, which is known in German as the Lützel.

 Experts from the three cantons and the Haut-Rhin department of France will be monitoring the evolution of the mold and the mortality of crayfish in the coming weeks.

The source of the mold has not yet been identified.

No method of combatting the mold is known to exist, according to ATS.

The white-clawed crayfish, found from Sapin to the Balkans, is an endangered species and the only kind of crayfish native to the British Isles.

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Cafés and restaurants in most of French-speaking Switzerland to re-open on December 10th

Nearly four weeks after closing down, bars and restaurants in five of Switzerland’s six French-speaking regions will be back in business as of December 10th.

Cafés and restaurants in most of French-speaking Switzerland to re-open on December 10th
A waiter wearing a protective face mask poses in the nearly empty restaurant "Le Lyrique cafe brasserie" in Geneva. AFP

In a joint press release, Geneva, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Fribourg, and Jura announced on Wednesday that the decision to re-open restaurants and cafés “was made in a concerted manner and with a desire for harmonisation and clarity” among the neighbouring regions.

Of the French-speaking cantons, only Valais restaurants will remain shut, as the canton had extended its closures until December 13th.

Authorities noted that the decision to re-open was driven by the steadily declining coronavirus infection rates in the regions, which until the first week of November had been among the most impacted in Switzerland.

Cantonal officials said that the re-opening “will take place in a strict health framework. It will be mandatory to consume seated and provide contact details for tracing. There can only up to four people per table.”

Tables must be at least 1.5 metres apart and masks must be worn if customers are not seated.

Additionally, establishments must remain closed between 11 pm. and 6 am, in accordance with federal rules.

Authorities said they would monitor “for the possible effects of the re-opening on the pandemic. This means the decision can be revoked if the health situation requires it”.

In Vaud, electric heaters will be allowed outside the restaurants to encourage customers to eat outdoors.

READ MORE: IN NUMBERS: Reasons to be optimistic about the coronavirus situation in Switzerland 

Other measures will also be lifted

For instance, in Vaud museums will re-open on December 1st, and religious services will resume with a maximum of 30 people. They will have to wear masks and keep the 1.5-metre distance.

Also in Vaud, more relaxed measures will be put in place for the holidays: from December 18th to January 3rd, the limit for gatherings will be raised from five to 10 people.

However, participation in other public or private events will remain limited to five people.

In Geneva, the Council of State announced on Wednesday that museums, exhibition halls and libraries will be open from November 28th.

This new relaxation comes after hairdressers, beauticians and other wellness services resumed their activities on Saturday.

Until then, all non-essential businesses in Geneva had been shut down since the beginning of November to curb the canton’s alarmingly high contamination rate. 

You can see the situation in other Swiss cantons here.