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Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database: Studies

De Groot, S.J. 1992. "Decline and fall of the salmon fisheries in the Netherlands: is restocking the Rhine a reality?" Aquaculture Research no. 23 (2):253–264.

Abstract:The Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L., was once of major importance to the fishing industry along the River Rhine. This paper discusses the Dutch and German salmon catches over the years 1863–1950. Even up to the end of the last century, it was not uncommon for Dutch and German fishermen to land 100000 salmon a year. However, factors such as the increased use of locks and weirs along the Rhine, coupled with growth in pollution, soon led to a rapid decline in numbers. By 1933, the salmon fishing industry in the Netherlands had virtually ceased to exist. Analysis of the available catch statistics suggests that the decline in the salmon population could have started before official records began. Although the degree of scatter in the data and uncertainties in the assumptions preclude the possibility of drawing firm conclusions about the survival rate of salmon, these figures illustrate how difficult it will be to maintain a stable population in the Rhine. Moreover, a number of changes have taken place since the heyday of salmon in western Europe, which could compound the problem. Of particular importance in the context of the Rhine are: 1  the closure of two of the major migration routes to the sea (Haringvliet and Zuiderzee); 2  morphological changes in the river; 3  chemical and thermal pollution; 4  the loss of accessible spawning and nursery areas of the required quality; 5  the disappearance of salmon from other rivers that flow into the North Sea such as the Rivers Elbe, Weser and Ems. If salmon were only reintroduced into the Rhine, a certain proportion would probably stray and infiltrate these other rivers. The fact that the impact of these changes is difficult to quantify increases the uncertainty associated with maintaining a stable stock of salmon in the Rhine.