Sizzling temperatures leading to ‘catastrophe’ for fish in Swiss lakes and rivers

Water temperatures have already reached 25 Celsius, threatening the survival of certain fish species in Switzerland's watercourses, warned the head of the Swiss Fisheries Association.

Sizzling temperatures leading to 'catastrophe' for fish in Swiss lakes and rivers
Dead trout. Photo: crookid/Depositphotos

For grayling, trout and whitefish in Lake Constance and the Rhine river, the current temperatures already pose an existential threat.

The unusually warm summer – June was the hottest for a century in Switzerland – has set alarm bells ringing among conservationists and administrative bodies. The specter of 2003, when dead fish lined the banks of Lake Constance and the smell of rotting fish became a mainstay of lakes in Swiss villages, looms once again because of the unusually hot summer temperatures. 

“We are not far off experiencing the same catastrophe again,” Philipp Sicher, managing director of the Swiss Fisheries Association, told Swiss daily Blick. 

The water temperature in Lake Constance is currently 25 degrees Celsius and a mere two degree increase would mean that most fish species would no longer be able to survive. In some areas, fish can be relocated, but in others only heavy rainfall can determine their fate.

“Unlike in the midlands, where we have the opportunity in rivers and smaller rivers to fish out threatened species and relocate them to cooler waters, we lack this opportunity in the Rhine and Lake Constance,” added Sicher. 

While bream, roach and carp are at home in such tropical temperatures, most commercial fish specimen cannot survive above 27 Celsius. 

READ ALSO: Switzerland's driest summer for more than a decade threatening water supplies

The scorching summer is only the latest woe for Swiss fish. Thousands of fish die every year in Swiss lakes because of more than 1,000 obstacles created by the country's hydroelectric plants' turbines, reports local daily Solothurner Zeitung. 

The hydroelectric plants have been ordered to remodel their infrastructure by 2030 and nearly 1 billion Swiss francs, alongside taxes generated through electricity, have been set aside for the task. 

“I fear that the renovations will be postponed endlessly because the money is missing,” Sicher told Solothurner Zeitung, adding that the government is neglecting its conservation obligations towards fish species. 

A petition by Aqua Viva, the WWF and the Swiss Fisheries Association aims to pressure the government and has already collected 25,000 signatures. 

Migratory fish such as eel and trout are particularly affected. As a result of more than 1,000 artificial obstacles created by the hydrolelectric industry, “the fish are cut off from their seasonal spawning and feeding grounds,” states the fishing association's petition.

Approximately 70 species of fish live in Switzerland's water bodies, of which 54 are indigenous, according to 

“We are running out of time. At some point it will be too late for our already highly-endangered Swiss fish,” said Sicher. 

Only a dramatic increase in rainfall can remedy the situation, added Sicher. 

READ MORE: Summer in April: parts of Switzerland see record temperatures


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Petrol prices fall in Switzerland — but will they continue to drop?

Switzerland’s consumers have not had any good news in months, as the cost of living has been increasing practically across all categories. But there is a positive development nevertheless.

Petrol prices fall in Switzerland — but will they continue to drop?

Swiss motorists might have noticed that the price of fuel at the pump has fallen slightly, from more than 2 francs per litre of unleaded 95 throughout the summer and at the beginning of September.

Market analysis carried out by Touring Club Suisse (TCS) motoring organisation confirms this trend.

Currently, a litre of unleaded 95 in Swiss filling stations costs on average 1.92 francs — around 15 cents less than at the beginning of September and 39 cents less than during the historic record in June.

Will this downward trend last?

For the moment, industry experts are not making any predictions, either way.

That’s because the price at the pump depends not only on the price of crude oil, but also on other factors, according to TCS.

They include — aside from geopolitical evolution in eastern Europe — transport costs, production rate, and the rate of the dollar.

Is it still cheaper to fuel up your car in neighbouring countries?

When the price of petrol exceeded 2 francs per litre in Switzerland, it made sense to buy gasoline across the border, especially when the franc gained strength against the euro in August. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What the weakening euro means for Switzerland’s residents

It may still be worthwhile, depending on the country.

In Germany, for instance, a litre of unleaded 95 costs on average 1.992, which is equivalent to the new price in Switzerland, according to TCS.

On the other hand, prices are lower in Italy (1.757), Austria (1.764), and, above all, France (1.57).

This TCS chart indicates per-litre prices in all European countries, which may help you decide were to buy petrol.

As for the cost of other energy sources, it is not expected to decrease any time  soon: on the contrary, forecasts call for higher prices.

READ MORE: Swiss government confirms ‘sharp increase’ in electricity prices