Serenity, as seen on the surface here, is absent for fish in Switzerland's Lake Constance. Photo: tomjac1980/Depositphotos
As water temperatures continue to rise in Swiss rivers and lakes and with little rain forecast in the near future, the head of Switzerland's Fishing Federation says his organization is taking extreme measures to try and ensure the survival of fish.
As Switzerland comes to grips with the hottest summer since 1864, fish are struggling to survive. Water temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius already represent "a stress factor for most fish species." In some rivers and lakes the water temperature has surpassed 23 Celsius, in extreme cases it is above 25.
For grayling, trout and whitefish in Lake Constance and the Rhine river, the current temperatures pose an existential threat.
"In most of the cantons in the Central Swiss Plateau it has already been necessary to rescue fish," by relocating them to cooler waters, reads a statement by the Swiss Fisheries Federation.
The unusually hot and dry summer is haunting Switzerland's environmental authorities as the specter of 2003, when water temperatures in the Rhine river reached 27 degrees Celsius and thousands of fish died, haunts the country once again.
"We are extremely worried," says Philipp Sicher, head of the Swiss Fishing Federation (FSP), in a recent statement by the organization. "Indicators show that tragedy is near," added Sicher.
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With not nearly enough rainfall in sight in the near future, the FSP calls on residents living near water courses to play their part to safeguard several species of fish. The following guidelines have been issued:
– Do not unnecessarily destabilize shrinking habitats with excessive navigation;
– Do not under any circumstances take water samples from watercourses (eg for agricultural irrigation);
– Swimmers must absolutely avoid areas of cooler water (where fish take refuge automatically);
– Fishermen must refrain from walking in the water and avoid too hot streams.
Several cantons have also placed a ban on pumping water for agriculture from minor and major water bodies.
"Safe havens such as shady banks and deep water pits are becoming more and more essential," says the statement, calling on casual swimmers to avoid these.
While the hottest summer in more than 150 years is the primary cause of the threat to fish, the FSP's statement also takes a swipe at the role played by industry, and thus climate change, in the near-catastrophy situation in Switzerland's waters.
"In addition to solar radiation, it is also important to take into account the heat caused by wastewater and industrial facilities. And more generally: the climate responds, because we do not respect nature enough and we still allow too many fossil fuels," states the communiqué.