The Republic of Austria, the most mountainous state in Europe after Switzerland, lies in central Europe surrounded by seven other countries. Dominated by the Eastern Alps and the Danube drainage, this forested country is threaded by swift mountain streams and has a complement of large and beautiful Alpine lakes.
Good care of forests and water has a long tradition in Austria, but effluents from ever-increasing industry and more intensive agricultural practices have created severe pollution problems in some areas. Of late years, there has been a moderate growth in aquaculture, especially of trout, but a decrease in commercial fishing - now almost completely confined to lakes. Sport fishing for cold water species continues to be the dominant aspect of Austria's inland fisheries.
|1.||AREA:||83 855 km2|
|2.||POPULATION:||7 507 000 (est. 1990)||Density: 90 inh/km2|
Austria is situated between 46°22' and 49°1'N latitudes and 9°32' and 17°10'E longitudes in southcentral Europe.
Its extreme length is 573 km (E–W); its greatest breadth is 294 km (N–S). However, shaped like a pear, its long western neck which occupies about half the length of the country, is sometimes only 34 km in width. Two-fifths of the total area are higher than 1 000 m. The highest point is 3 797 m; the lowest is 115 m (Neusiedler See).
Austria is bounded on the north by the Federal Republic of Germany for 815 km, on the north and northeast by Czechoslovakia for 574 km, on the east by Hungary for 354 km, on the south by Yugoslavia for 330 km and by Italy for 430 km, on the southwest and west by Switzerland for 168 km, and by Liechtenstein on the east for 36 km.1
1 The boundaries of these frontiers are taken from Republik Österreich (1986)
Austria falls into five geographical units:
The Eastern Alps, averaging about 900 m in elevation, occupy most of the country's western neck. Constituting about 63 percent of the country, they fan out as they cross the country easterly. These Alps are divided into three chains: a northern range of limestone, a high central Alp of crystalline rocks, and a southern limestone range, the Carnic Alps and Karawaken. The three chains are separated by great furrows: the Inn, Salzach and Enns in the north, and the Mur, Mürz, and Drau in the south.
The North Alpine Foothills, about 300–750 m in elevation, extend across the expanded eastern extension of the country to the Carpathian Foothills in the extreme east. Collectively, this area constitutes about 11 percent of the country's area.
The Bohemian Massif or Plateau, north of the Foothills, is separated from them by the easterly flowing Danube which traverses the country. These granitic and gneissic highlands rising to about 1 000 m constitute about 10 percent of Austria.
The Vienna Basin in the extreme east is a small (4 percent) but fertile area, about 150 to 450 m in elevation.
The Pannonian Lowlands, south of and separated from the Vienna Basin by the Carpathian Foothills, occupy the eastern and southeastern zones of the country (about 12 percent) and include the lowermost area of Austria, the Neusiedler See.
Austria is well wooded except at high altitudes (above about 2 100 m) and in some of its lowlands. Below the topmost Alpine areas of bare rock, ice and snow fields are extensive mountain meadows and forests. Above 1 200 m, the forest is mostly coniferous (spruce, fir, pine and larch); below this level deciduous trees such as beech, birch and oak are dominant. Large areas below 600 m have been cleared for agriculture and summer pastures break the forest land above. In the lower, drier areas, especially in the east, there is a steppe vegetation of coarse grasses and shrubs, and there are extensive reed beds (Phragmites) around the Neusiedler See.
Most of Austria's arable land lies in the eastern lowlands where loess has helped form good black earths, brown soils and loam. But as one proceeds west the percentage of arable land declines to form less than five percent of the land in the western neck. The Alps themselves (see above) are divided into: limestone and flysch (eroded sandstone) in the north, granites and gneisses covered with schists in the central area, and limestones and dolomite in the south. The productivity of the lakes in the Eastern Alps is partly dependent upon these mineral bases.
The temperate climate is not extreme but varies sharply owing to great differences in elevation. Summers are relatively cool, winters are mild with much rain in the lowlands and heavy snow in the mountains.
The average annual temperatures in the valleys range between 7° and 10°C; in the mountains they drop to -6°C or lower. In the valleys the highest average monthly temperatures (usually in July) are 17° to 21°C, while the lowest average monthly temperatures (January) are -1° to -7°C.
The average annual precipitation is 1 200 mm rising to a maximum of 3 000 mm in the mountains although less than 500 mm in parts of the eastern plains. The highest incidence of rainfall is in the summer. Snowfall varies from about 500 mm in the east to 10 m or more at high elevations. Snow covers the valleys for 30 to 90 days and is perpetual in the high mountains.
Ice-cover on lakes is largely dependent upon their elevation, e.g., the 505 m Wallersee is covered for about 63 days, from mid-January to mid-March. The Danube may freeze over from late December to mid-February.
5. HYDROGRAPHY AND LIMNOLOGY
On the whole, Austria has abundant surface water resources. Table 5 indicates that 1 120 km2 or 1.3 percent of the country's area is covered by inland waters. This is obviously a minimum figure and does not include the myriad of small streams and lakelets in the mountains.
Ninety-six percent of the country drains into the Danube (Donau) system which flows into the Black Sea. Two areas drain to the North Sea (Atlantic): one in the far west which flows to the Rhine (Rhein), and a small area northwest of Vienna which drains into the Elbe basin. Another small area in the Tyrol drains into Italian streams to eventually reach the Adriatic through the Po.
The approximate annual run-off is 661 mm or 55 000 million m3. The total annual river discharge leaving the country is, however, about 90 000 million m3, as 35 000 million m3 are received from upstream countries (Van der Leeden, 1975; ECE, 1978).
5.1 Rivers (Flüsse).
The total length of Austria's rivers is about 100 000 km (Bruschek, 1971; Austr. Fed. Chancellery, 1978). Guntschl (1965) says that 86 700 km carry fish populations.
Table 1 lists the major rivers of Austria. The discharges of 15 of its important rivers are shown in Table 2, and data on the discharge of the second largest river in Austria, the River Inn, are given in Table 3.
Danube. The largest river in the country, which also has the most extensive drainage basin, is the Danube (Donau in Austria and Germany). It rises on the eastern slopes of the Black Forest in the Federal Republic of Germany and enters Austria from the northwest to be joined by the Inn - at that point a larger stream. The Danube then flows within Austria for 350 km or about one-eighth of its entire course. Within Austria it is still considered to be a mountain or Alpine river, above the lower cyprind zone, as it drops rapidly for about 145 m toward the Hungarian plain to enter Czechoslovakia and form the Austrian/Czechoslovakian border for 6 km. It has a medium head of 0.44 percent (44 cm/km), which is very high for a navigable river. Because of the high velocity of flow and little depth at low water, navigation is hindered but this section is a great energy resource. Twelve hydroelectric dams with locks and plants are planned in an overall plan for development of the Austrian section (Fenz and Neiger, 1976). Such dams serve to stabilize the flow of the Danube, make it more of a lacustrine system, and thus affect the aquatic fauna.
Most of the variations in flow of the upper Danube are caused by inflow from the German tributaries along its right bank, and water meadows have been used for discharge of peak floods. However, the Danube has a number of major feeders which flow for a considerable distance within Austria and reach it before it leaves the country. These include the Inn (and its tributary the Salzach), Traun, Enns, Ybbs, and Traisen. Another major tributary, the March, originates in Czechoslovakia (where it is called the Morava) and forms an 80-km boundary between Austria and Czechoslovakia in its lower course. Austrian streams joining the Danube below Austria include the: Leitha, Raab, Mur and Drau.
Most of Austria's streams are clear, cold and rapid. They are generally - good waters for trout and grayling and at least almost always in the barbel (Barbus barbus) zone..
The major rivers of Austria
|River||Length (km)||Area of basin (km2)|
|Total||In Austria||Total||In Austria|
|Rhine||1 320||23||224 400||2 332|
|72||72||1 281||1 229|
|Danube||2 848||350||817 000||80 648|
|250||90||4 126||1 338|
|510||280||26 131||15 913|
|225||225||6 704||5 544|
|153||153||4 277||4 277|
|254||254||6 080||6 080|
|126||126||1 293||1 293|
|153||153||1 753||1 753|
|64||64||1 181||1 181|
|352||80||26 658||3 675|
|290||135||13 404||2 249|
|191||167||2 380||2 148|
|283||84||10 114||4 550|
|177||60||4 816||2 111|
|749||261||40 400||11 828|
|122||122||1 403||1 209|
|158||158||2 584||2 584|
|444||348||13 824||10 321|
|85||85||1 513||1 513|
|70||70||1 113||1 113|
|Elbe||1 144||--||145 800||--|
a With the Schwarza
Source: Republik Österreich, Österreichischen Statistichen Zentralamt (1986)
Discharge of some major rivers in Austria
|River and station||Basin area|
|annual flow, m3/s|
|Danube||Linz||79 490||1 477.0||1 717.0|
|Danube||Wien-Nussdorf||101 700||1 916.0||2 227.0|
a Period 1901–50
Source: Van der Leeden (1975) after Hydrograph. für Centralburo, Vienna, 1972
5.2 Lakes (Seen)
The total area of Austria's natural lakes is about 500 km2 (Bruschek, 1971). There are about 88 lakes covering an area of 225 km2 in addition to two large international lakes. The principal Austrian lakes are listed in Table 4 Excluding the two international lakes, the other 27 all-Austrian lakes listed in the table total 207 km2 in area.
Lake Constance/Konstanz/Bodensee. Only about 11 percent or about 60 km2 of Lake Constance, in the Rhine (Rhein) drainage and the third largest lake in Central Europe, belongs to Austria, where it is called the Bodensee. Only a portion at the southeast end of its main body, the Obersee, abuts on Austria at Bregenz. The Austrian section has a shoreline of about 26 km or 15 percent of the area of the Obersee. This basin, once oligotrophic, is now between meso- and eutrophic, and the composition of the major fish stocks in the Obersee has shifted from coregonids to cyprinids and perch. In 1970 the entire lake was reported to have an annual harvest of 4 000 t, and during the 1970–74 period, Austria's share of the catch was said to be 18 percent. For a further description of Lake Constance, see section 5.2 in the review of the Federal Republic of Germany or of Switzerland. See also section 8.4 (below) concerning international agreements on the water quality and fisheries of Lake Constance.
Neusiedler See.1 The Neusiedler See lies in the extreme eastern portion of Austria, shared with Hungary where it is called Lake Fertö. It is the largest area of lacustrine water within Austria and is at the country's lowest elevation, 115 m. About 32 km in length (N–S) and 4–10 km wide (E–W), it is a tectonically formed steppe lake, totally unlike the characteristically glacial lakes of the country, and one which has almost dried up at times. Its reported area varies both with the year and the author consulted. It is assumed here that Löffler (1979) is close to the mark. He says that at an elevation of 115.5 m above sea level, the total area of the lake approaches 300 km2, of which about 200 km2 are covered by the reed (Phragmites), and that at its deepest the present basin is about 113.5 m above sea level. In the same publication, Hacker (1979) says that the Austrian portion of the lake is about fourfifths of the total area, i.e., about 240 km2 at elevation 115.5 m. Kusel-Fetzmann (1979) also states that the total area is about 300 km2, about 50 percent is covered with reeds, and its depth is 0.5–2.0 m, maintained since 1965 at 1.75 m through an agreement between Austria and Hungary. Wurzer et al. (1982) agree that the total area of the lake is 300 km2, but that the area of open water is about 150 km2. One of the latest estimates indicates that the total area of the Neusiedler See without its reed belt is 152 km2 of which the Austrian portion is 132 km2 (Republik Österreich, 1986).1
1 This is essentially the same description that is used in section 5.2 of the review for Hungary
1 Some estimates in addition to those cited in the main text follow. Erdei (1968) cited under Hungary, says that the Neusiedler See has a total area of 335 km2 of which three-fourths is in Austria, i.e., 251 km2. Kovary (1971) (cited under Hungary) gives its total area as 320 km2 of which 268 km2 are Austrian. Fodor (1984), cited under Hungary, gives its total area as 335 km2 of which 248 km2 are Austrian
Discharge of the Inn River, Austria
|Mean monthly discharge, m3/s|
|River and station||Basin area|
|Inn River, Scharding||25 665||376||400||556||734||1 030||1 330||1 380||1 070||743|
|410||346||591||908||1 627||2 372||1 592||1 084||928|
|376||552||518||765||1 255||1 479||1 678||1 685||953|
|513||545||725||937||1 415||1 679||1 422||999||767|
|452||416||474||904||911||1 081||1 177||1 149||782|
|Period of record/year|
|500||346||444||3 720||Jun. 12||241||1965|
|565||527||563||3 650||Jul. 24||276||1966|
|491||371||357||2 551||Jun. 9||248||1967|
|838||429||337||2 510||Aug. 8||262||1968|
Source: Van der Leeden (1975) after Unesco (1971)
Fed by mountain water, including one tributary of consequence, the Wulka, this high-silicate water is mixed with soda-containing ground water from old sediments. The lake water has a high salt content which has ranged from about 1.8 g/l to 16 g/l depending upon the year and the depth of the water. The volume of the Neusiedler See varies from 180 to 250 million m3. Its theoretical water retention time is about one year, and its discharge is only about 0.5 to 2.0 m3/sec. (Wurzer et al., 1982). Normally, its only outlet (artificial) is the Hanság Canal which proceeds to the Moson Danube in Hungary. The lake is turbid, gets high phosphate loading, and contains many water weeds in addition to its reed belts. Summer water temperatures are high; they reach 25° to 30°C. Ice-cover lasts 10 to 97 days, and in 1928/29 the lake froze to the bottom with severe effects upon its fish population.
The principal natural lakes of Austria
|Lake||Province||Total area||Elevation||Depth (m)||Volume million||Theoret. reten. time||Disch.||Drainage basin|
|Vgb||539.0||395.0||252.0||92.0||48 430.0||4.5||360.0||10 900|
|Neusiedler Seeb||Burg||300.0||115.0||1.8||1.1||180–250||1.0||0.5–2.0||1 000|
|OÖ||25.6||422.0||191.0||89.7||2 302.0||1.0||74.2||1 417|
|Millstätter See||Ktn||13.28||588.0||141.0||89.0||1 176.6||7.0||5.4||276.0|
|Piburger See||Tirol||0.134||813.0||24.6||13.7||1.8||2.7||24 l/s||2.65|
a Numerical data apply to all of Lake Constance which is shared with the Federal Republic of Germany and Switzerland. The Austrian portion constitutes only about 60 km2 of that section of the lake called the Obersee
b Shared with Hungary. The entire area of the lake without reed beds is about 152 km2, and the Austrian portion without reed beds is 132 km2
c Water supply modified from natural state
Source: Sampl et al. (1989)
The lake now contains about 23 species of fish, including introductions, according to Hacker (1979). Fourteen of these are cyprinids, including the exotic silver carp (Hypopthalmichthys molitrix) and grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella). The lake also contains pike (Esox lucius), three percids, and the introduced European eel (Anguilla anguilla). In 1975, Austria and Hungary signed an international agreement concerning the management of the lake's fisheries especially with respect to stocking.
For many years there have been plans to drain the Neusiedler See and convert it into agricultural land, despite its poor soil. It now appears that the lake will continue as a unique resource, including its wealth of birdlife, as well as its highly fluctuating fishery.
Other Austrian lakes. Although considerable attention has been paid to the Neuseidler See (because of its size and uniqueness) it is completely atypical compared to the majority of Austria's sub-Alpine and Alpine lakes formed through glacial action. (See Table 4 for their listing in order of size.) Most of these lakes lie above 400 m, are oligotrophic, have a seasonal circulation, and are very attractive scenically. The two major groups, those of the Salzkammergut (a mountainous area in the Traun drainage mainly in Öberösterreich) and the Carinthian lakes (in the Drau drainage of Austria's southermost province, Kärnten) are of outstanding beauty and attract many tourists not only for fishing, but for other sports. Among the best known and largest lakes of the Salzkammergut are the: Attersee, Traunsee, Mondsee, Wolfgangsee and Hallstätter See. The largest and best known of the Carinthian lakes are the: Wörthersee, Milistätter See, Ossiacher See, Weissensee, Faakersee, Keutschacher and Klopeiner See.
The largest lake completely within the confines of Austria is the 45.9 km2 Attersee. The second largest all-Austrian lake (25.6 km2) and also the deepest (191 m) is the Traunsee which also has the largest Austrian drainage basin of 1 417 km2.
Most of these lakes have waters cold enough to support good populations of coregonids, char and trout, but may also be suitable for warmer water forms, such as cyprinids. Thus, the Traunsee at 422 m, has surface water temperatures ranging from 2.6°C in January to 18.9°C in August, and at a depth of 20 m ranges from 2.8°C in January to 11.3°C in October. It has a professional fishery for coregonids, and supports salmonids, pike and cyprinids. In the Salzkammergut, the Mondsee at 481 m is the warmest of the larger lakes attaining 20–22°C. At 469 m the Attersee may even attain a temperature of 25° in some of its bays. The Carinthian lakes are considered to be the warmest of Austria's mountain lakes and bathing is popular here. On the Ossiacher See (elevation 501 m), offshore temperatures may attain 24°C in July and August. Swimming and other watersports are practiced, and the sport fishery includes pike, pike-perch and perch, wels, tench and carp.
All in all, the mountain lakes of Austria get heavy use both from residents and tourists. Bathing, sailing, motorboating, wind-surfing, some commercial fishing (now being phased out), and sport fishing all compete to some extent.
5.3 Reservoirs (Stauseen)
In 1977, Austria had 59 Alpine reservoirs with a total area of 6 212 ha (Austria/EIFAC, 1979). Some of these are enlargements of natural lakes. Fifteen of Europe's 152 “high dams” (those in the USSR not included) are in Austria.
6. LAND AND WATER USE
The population of Austria is about 42 percent rural, and about 45 percent of the land is devoted to agriculture on small farms. Cereals, potatoes, sugar beets, wine grapes, fruit and vegetables are raised, but dairying and livestock production on meadows and pastures are paramount. The best arable land is in the eastern part of the country. The central areas are the most heavily wooded. The western areas have little crop production but produce about a third of the animal products.
Because of climatic conditions, water demands for irrigation are not great. Less than 0.5 percent of the country receives irrigation which is almost always used supplementally. Water use for agriculture is so small that it has little effect on fisheries. Drainage has not been a major factor in Austrian land use, although there were early attempts to drain Neusiedler See despite its ecological interest and fishery yield (Sauerzopf, 1979). Fertilizer use is below the European average.
Austria ranks about third in Europe in timber resources; it was ninth in roundwood production in 1985. About 85 percent of the wood is coniferous. Cutting is carefully controlled to preserve the terrain against slides and soil erosion, as well as to protect reservoirs and maintain the forest as a tourist attraction. Sustained forest yield is a goal of the Government.
Pattern of land use in Austria, 1986
|Arable and permanent crops||18.0|
|Forest and woodland||38.5|
Source: 1987 FAO Prod.Yearb., 41 (Publ. 1988)
There are a variety of mineral resources in Austria. Those of significance include antimony, magnesite, graphite, lignite, iron and other metals, salt, gas and oil.
The growth of industry is evident. Despite Austria's lack of coal, iron and steel production is the primary industry. Food processing and chemical industries are next in importance, followed by the manufacture of textiles, ceramics and paper. Most of the important manufacturing enterprises are located in the east (Vienna, Linz and Graz) with smaller concentrations in Styria, the Rhine Valley, the west and southwest. Water pollutants include effluent from most of these industries, and together with sewerage and agricultural effluents, industry constitutes a major source of pollution. In 1972, it was considered that 27 percent of the total length of Austria's 100 000 km of rivers was polluted (13 percent heavily and 14 percent marginally) and that 225 km had been rendered fishless (Holden and Lloyd, 1972). Pollution control is however, considered important, especially in view of Austria's position as an upstream country, its large lake area, and its importance as a tourist and recreational centre. In the meantime, public sewerage has reached over half of the people, most wastes are not discharged into lakes, and now only a few kilometers of rivers are fishless.
Austria is one of the foremost (about sixth largest) producers of hydroelectric power in Europe due to its abundant water resources and steep terrain. In 1987, its total installed electrical capacity was 16 045 000 kW of which 10 575 000 kW (66 percent) was hydroelectric. Most of the installations are in the mountains and Alpine foothills on flowing streams with high drops, or on the Danube where a twelve-stage series of power stations is under construction. Their development, which is still expanding, may sometimes affect fisheries adversely. A nuclear plant is under construction on the Danube. The future of both hydroelectric and nuclear development is unsure because of powerful environmental interests.
All of the 350 km of the Danube within Austria and about 80 km of its tributary the March (along the Austria-Czechoslovakia border) are navigable to powered shipping. Another 400 km of rivers are considered navigable in a more limited sense, e.g., for log rafting. The Danube normally freezes over from late December to mid-February, but is kept open by ice-breakers most of the time. The Austrian terrain is not conducive to major canal construction. Automobile road density is high for a mountainous area, 1.7 km/km2, and passenger car ownership is 355 per 1 000 people (1988). There is a good electrified railroad system.
The use of surface water in Austria, except to regulate rivers and their ports, is practically limited to industrial purposes. Otherwise, the water supply is mostly ground or spring water with which the country is liberally and widely supplied. Karst water is found over one-sixth of the total area.
The annual consumption of fish during the 1982–84 period was about 6.5 kg per caput.
Tourism is very important in this Alpine country with its wealth of natural countryside, forests, rushing streams, lakes, spas, ski slopes, and cultural centres. Angling, especially on streams is one of the tourist attractions (see section 7.1).
7. FISH AND FISHERIES
Most of the drainage in Austria is Danubian, and Busnita (1967a) lists 54 species of fishes belonging to 14 families from the Austrian Danube. Exclusive of the Cyprinidae, major Austrian species include: brown trout (Salmo trutta), Huchen (Hucho hucho), char (Salvelinus alpinus), coregonids (Coregonus spp.), grayling (Thymallus thymallus), pike (Esox lucius), European catfish or wels (Silurus glanis), burbot (Lota lota), European perch (Perca fluviatilis), and pike-perch (Stizostedion lucioperca). The introduced rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and the European eel (Anguilla anguilla), which is not native to the Danube, are also major species in the catch. The major native cyprinids include: common carp (Cyprinus carpio), common bream (Abramis brama), bleak (Alburnus alburnus), Schied (Aspius aspius), barbel (Barbus barbus), white bream (Blicca bjoerkna), Näsling (Chondrostoma nasus), dace (Leuciscus leuciscus), orfe (L. idus), chub (L. cephalus), roach (Rutilus rutilus), rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus), tench (Tinca tinca), and Russnase (Vimba vimba). Two introduced cyprinids, the grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) and silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) have been established in some Austrian waters, e.g., the shallow Stubenbergsee.
Table 6 presents the nominal “catches” for the waters of Austria as compiled by FAO for the period of 1965–88. As with similar tables for other countries, the lumping of species and lack of distinction between fish derived from the capture fishery and those from pond culture diminishes its usefulness1. An interpretation of the table will be given below.
1 Variance in reporting to the Federal Government by the governments of Austria's nine provinces or Bundesländer may also make statistical accuracy difficult
Nominal catches in the waters of Austria, 1965–88 (in tons)
|Freshwater fishes n.e.i.||Rainbow trout|
|1965||...||5 100||...||5 100|
|1966||...||4 900||...||4 900|
|1967||...||4 200||...||4 200|
|1968||...||4 000||...||4 000|
|1969||...||4 000||...||4 000|
|1970||1 100||1 300||800||3 200|
|1971||1 000||1 200||700||2 900|
|1972||800||1 100||700||2 600|
|1978||900||800||2 000||3 700|
|1979||1 200||700||2 200||4 100|
|1980||1 200||700||2 400||4 300|
|1981||1 100||700||2 600||4 400|
|1982||1 150||750||2 600||4 500|
|1983||1 000||700||3 000||4 700|
|1984||1 100||600||2 700||4 400|
|1985||1 250||550||2 700||4 500|
|1986||1 300||600||2 700||4 600|
|1987||1 200||600||2 800||4 600|
|1988||1 300||600||3 200||5 100|
... data not available
Source: 1965–69 - Yearb.Fish.Stat.FAO, 36 (Publ. 1974)
1970–88 - FAO Fish.Dept., Fishery Statistical Database (FISHDAB)
7.1 Capture Fisheries
7.1.1 Commercial fishing
At one time, commercial fisheries were of importance in some of the larger Austrian rivers such as the Danube, Inn, Drau, Traun and Enns. For example, Busnita (1967) stated that the Austrian catch in the Danube was about 200 t annually. Today, however, only a few fishermen holding old fishing rights occasionally fish the rivers with nets and really not professionally (Austria/EIFAC, 1979). Ecological changes in the resource, the rise in sport fishing, and poor prices for cyprinids are among the factors in its decline.
For all practical purposes then, commercial fishing in Austria is confined to static waters: in some of the lakes, and in some reservoirs where the owners conduct the fishing. The major components of this catch are: whitefish (Coregonus spp.) and char, followed by brown trout, pike, common carp and other cyprinids, wels, pike-perch and eel. The tonnage listed in Table 6 under “freshwater fishes” probably represents most of this catch1. Some other figures are also available; undoubtedly all are estimates. Bruschek (1971) thought that Austrian commercial fishermen took about 1 000 t of foodfish from streams and lakes in 1970. Austria/EIFAC (1979) offered the following estimates for commercial fish catch in Austria: 1 400 t in 1963, 1 200 t in 1973 and 1 000 t in 1978. Although the trend is down, there are areas where the catch has built up, e.g., in the 6.8 km2 Achensee, the commercial catch of coregonids rose from 271 kg in 1971 to 5 117 kg in 1978 (Wurzer et al., 1982).
1 It is believed that the “catch” in Table 6 specified as “common carp” and “rainbow trout” represents cultivated fish (see section 7.2)
Whatever the catch, and overall it is declining, the number of fulltime professional fishermen in Austria was between only 160 and 180 circa 1980.
Austria once had a crayfish (Astacus astacus) fishery, but it declined during the last century with the spread of crayfish plague (Aphanomyces astaci). Two American species (Oronectes limosus and Pacifastacus leniusculus) have been introduced as substitutes.
7.1.2 Sport fishing
The number of sport fishermen in Austria in 1979 was estimated at about 220 000 or almost three percent of the total population.
It is difficult to obtain statistics on the sport catch in Austria, but as early as 1963 there were indications that it attained 2 100 t or 60 percent of the total take of 3 500 t by the capture fishery (EIFAC, 1964). By 1978, it was estimated to total at least 2 500 t or 70 percent of the entire capture fishery again specified as 3 500 t (Austria/EIFAC, 1979).
Sport fishing in Austria is especially attractive to both local and foreign anglers. Among the more important trout streams are the Traun, Salzach, Mur, Lammer, Enns and Alm. In addition to trout (mainly brown), grayling and the giant huchen are particularly prized. Other fishes taken by recreational fishermen include: char, pike, pike-perch, perch and various cyprinids, especially carp and tench.
The provinces (Lander) issue licences for sport fishing but most fishing is actually in the hands of private individuals or associations, and a private fishing permit issued by the proprietor or his lessee is also necessary. Broadly speaking, stream salmonids and grayling may be taken only on fly. Spin fishing is permitted for larger fish such as pike and wels, and natural bait is usually allowed only for phytophagous fish. There are some rather complex regulations (closed seasons, size limits, etc.) in Austria concerning sport fishing. One of the best guides to the subject, as well as to fishing areas is “Fishing in Austria” (Angelsport in Osterreich) issued by the Austrian National Tourist Office.
Fishing clubs which lease rights from private owners may also stock their areas. About 50 t of cultivated trout and about the same amount of cultivated carp are stocked annually in private waters for special licence fee fishing (Brown, 1977, 1983).
The major fishes cultivated in Austria are rainbow trout and common carp. A personal communication from Dr J. Hemsen (21 January 1980) states that all of the trout and carp “catches” shown in Table 6 as made during the 1970–78 period were actually produced through aquaculture. It will be noted, however, that there is almost no agreement of these Table 6 figures with those in Table 7 which provides estimates of the production of cultivated trout and carp in Austria derived from other “official” or standard sources. This, and other inconsistencies even within the same Table 7 make it difficult to accept most of the figures.
The truth of the matter seems to be that: (i) many of the figures in Table 7 actually emanate from the same general source, despite the varying authorships; (ii) they are all very gross estimates, and (iii) even the original source may have used different bases at different times. With respect to the last point, figures on “official” or “commercial” production of both trout and carp may differ from the country's overall aquacultural production which includes that of “amateurs”. For example, Brown (1977, 1983) says that in 1975, the 72 members belonging to the Association of Austrian Trout Producers might be considered as commercial operators, but that there were also about 800–825 producers who cultivated trout for their household consumption or as a hobby. Similarly, he says that there are two carp producing associations with a membership of about 40 producers, but that there are also an estimated 160 small enterprises and hobbyists who are not commercial producers.1 One assumes that Brown's production figures include only the output from commercial units. Emphasis on this general point is reinforced by the statement that: “The big trout farmers are joined in the Union of Trout Farmers of Austria (Osterreichischer Forellenzüchter Verband); the official production of these breeders is about 1 000 to 1 220 t/year. But there are a lot of smaller ponds, so-called hobby ponds, which produce together nearly the same as the big ones. So the whole production of trout in Austria lies between 2 000 and 2 500 t/year. With respect to carp cultivation…the small ponds…are producing about 50 percent more than the official unified carp farmers, and the carp production is officially around 900 t, but really between 1 200 and 1 400 tons a year” (Austria, 1980).
1 Both EIFAC (1964) and Austria/EIFAC (1979) said that the total number of carp and trout producers in Austria was 150
Finally, with respect to trout production, one has the illuminating statement from Hemsen (1982) that: “We have to estimate the production from the consumption of dry food. The production for the years 1980 and 1981 was estimated in that way to a high of about 2 000–2 500 tons a year”.
It seems clear that none of the Austrian production figures (Tables 6 and 7) are very accurate. The trend in its aquacultural production is, however, quite clear. Carp production, although rising in recent years, has been rather constant. Conversely, trout production has increased decidedly; it is perhaps 30 times greater now than it was 20 years ago. Nevertheless, production of either species is small. The estimated value of all aquacultural production of finfish in Austria during the 1984–87 period varied between US$ 9.2 million (1985) and US$ 15 million (1987) (FAO Fish.Info.Data and Stat.Serv., 1989).
Trout are produced primarily in central and western Austria in raceways and in ponds. Net-cage culture is not significant in Austria. Market size is between 250 and 300 g, which requires between 14 and 20 months (average 17 months) of growth. Most trout are sold alive, but the market for smoked trout is increasing. A large trout farm produces 100 t or more. In 1988 about 450 t of trout and salmon were imported and also most of the eyed eggs are imported.
Carp production is centred in the north (Lower Austria) and southeast (Styria and Burgenland). In 1970 there were about 2 000 ha of carp ponds in Austria (Bruschek, 1971) and in 1978 about 2 550 ha (Austria/EIFAC, 1979). Matěna and Berka (1987) say the total area of ponds in Austria is about 3 500 ha. There are only a few producers with 50-ha pond area and more. Earthern ponds are used with water added only to offset evaporation. The climatic conditions in the northern part require a longer growing period (three to four years); in south Austria it requires only two to three years to attain the market size of 1 600–2 000 g. The average yield in the growing ponds is 550 kg/ha/year. Most carp are sold alive. About 500 t are imported from Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and other eastern European countries.
Estimated production of cultivated trout in Austria (t)
Giorgetti and Ceschia (1982)
Shaw, Shaw and Thomas (1981)
Fish Farm.Int. 11(7)(1984)
Fed.Inst.Fish.Management Scharfling (1985/86/87/88)
FAO Fish.Info.Data and Stat.Serv.(1989)
|Estimated production of cultivated carp in Austria|
Fed.Inst.Fish.Management Scharfling (1985/86/87/88)
FAO Fish.Info.Data and Stat.Serv.(1989)
a Probable data, judging from the text; actually unspecified
F - FAO estimate
A few other fishes are cultivated in Austria, primarily tench, grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), pike-perch, and the coregonids, Coregonus lavaretus. As most of these fish are produced in conjunction with common carp, it is difficult to obtain good figures on their yield. Bruschek (1971) stated that the total production in Austrian carp ponds in 1970 was about: 550 t of common carp, 12 t of tench, 10 t of Coregonus, 4 t of pike-perch, and 3 t of rainbow trout. Brown (1977, 1983) states that in addition to carp and trout, annual production in Austria is about as follows: 30 t of tench, 20 t of grass carp, and 5 t of coregonids. It requires between two and three years to raise the tench to market size of 200–300 g and between three and four years to raise grass carp to market size of 3 000–4 000 g. Some pike and grayling for stocking are exported.
8. OWNERSHIP, ADMINISTRATION, MANAGEMENT, INVESTIGATION AND AGREEMENTS1
Fishing in Austria is mostly controlled by private individuals or fishing associations and there are only a few State fishing rights. The nine provincial government do, however, require and issue annual fishing licences.
Owners of fishing rights are obliged to be members of a fishing district and are responsible both to local fisheries authorities and organizations.
8.2 Administration and Management
Austrian fisheries fall within the competence of the Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry. The Ministry does not have a separate fishery office, but includes this work within a section dealing with animal husbandry.
The actual administration of fisheries is handled by the nine semi-autonomous governments (Landesregierungen) which keep in touch with the Federal Ministry. Within the provinces, fisheries are handled by their respective agriculture and forestry departments - administered together with allied responsibilities such as animal husbandry or nature and game conservation. The different provincial governments are usually responsible for fishery legislation; consequently the fishing laws vary from one Bundesland to the other. They also keep records of fishing rights and issue licences.
Most of the provinces have their own fishery organizations, autonomous administrative units prescribed by law and responsible for fishery administration and promotion for the province.
In addition, there is an Austrian Fisheries Corporation, encompassing the entire country and concerned with the promotion of Austrian fisheries, which consists of fisheries organizations, cooperatives, scientific institutes, etc.
8.3 Investigation and Education
A number of scientific and research services are concerned with Austrian fisheries.
The Federal Institute of Fisheries Management (Bundesanstalt für Fishereiwirtschaft) at Scharfling, O.Ö is principal among these. Directly responsible to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, it is concerned with research, training, advice to fishermen and the protection of fisheries. It is also responsible for the fish breeding station at Kreuzstein am Mondsee.
Institute for Hydrobiology and Fisheries Management of the University for Agriculture (Institut für Hydrobiologie und Fischereiwirtschaft der Universität für Landwirtschaft) in Vienna.
Federal Institute for Water Quality (Bundesanstalt für Gewässergüte) at Vienna-Kaisermühlen.
Institute for Fisheries Science of the Veterinary University (Institute für Fischkunde der Tierärztlichen Universität) in Vienna.
Institute of Fisheries Research of the University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck.
On a smaller scale, various zoological university institutes are also active in the field of fishery biology. All of these institutes are under the Ministry of Science.
8.4 International Agreements
Austria has bilateral agreements with Czechoslovakia, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Hungary concerning the use of boundary waters. It has a trilateral agreement with the Federal Republic of Germany and Switzerland on water quality in Lake Constance, belonging to the Internationale Gewässerschutz Kommission für den Bodensee. Since 1893, fish management of Lake Constance has been regulated by the Internationale Bevollmächtigen-Konferenz für die Bodenseefischerei.
Along with the other Danube countries, Austria belongs to the Danube Commission which deals with navigation and related matters.
1 Based largely on Gaudet (1974), a revision sent to EIFAC by Austria in 1979, and Austria/EIFAC (1989)
9. STATE OF THE FISHERY
The “nominal catch” in Austria was 2 000 t in 1938, had fallen to only 300 t in 1948, and then gradually rose to 4 000 t (double the 1938 catch) in 1959, and to 4 900 tons by 1964 (FAO Yearbook of Fishery Statistics, 36). Reference to Table 6 shows that the catch which then attained a high point of 5 100 t in 1965 declined to only 2 040 t in the next ten years (1975) and then rose again to 5 100 t in 1988. It is obvious, however, that a decline has occurred in the commercial capture fishery, and that aquacultural production has increased.
With respect to yield per unit area, the following yields were achieved: 20–200 kg/ha in managed streams, 8–30 kg/ha in 22 000 ha of lakes and 7 kg/ha in Neusiedler See, without the catch of sport fishing in the lakes (Austria/EIFAC, 1989). Such yields from lakes are considered quite low.
Bruschek (1971) stated that the average yield of carp for food in Lower Austria amounted to 200–300 kg/ha/year. In southern Styria and Burgenland, where the water temperature is higher and water chemistry better, he cited average yields of 500–800 kg/ha/year for consumable carp. Acceptance of the 1978 figures (section 7.2) for an Austrian pond are of 2 550 ha, of which about 2 000 ha are used for the production of carp for food and a production of 1 100 t provides an average yield of 550 kg/ha/year (Austria/EIFAC, 1989).
9.2 Factors Affecting the Fishery
Austria is well supplied with an abundance of mountain lakes and streams ensuring a variety of fishing, especially for cold-water species. Such waters do not have the high yields of warmer, more fertile waters but do produce “quality” fishing, e.g., for trout, char, grayling and coregonids. Even Austria's largest river, the Danube, still retains a mountain character, not becoming a “plains” or cyprinid river until it has left the country. Dredging, navigation and pollution have, however, altered its character, as has drainage of several of its arms.
Major deterrents to the maintenance of good fishing in Austria include hydroelectric development (which affects fish migration, diminishes stream flow and taps mountain lakes) and water pollution. The latter danger, which has become increasingly severe with the growth of intensive agriculture and industrialization, has already affected a considerable portion of the fishery (see section 6). It may be noted, however, that the amount of water available per caput per annum for waste dilution is still quite high. From run-off originating solely from rainfall on Austrian territory, it is 7 326 m3, and based on total discharge leaving the country is 11 989 m3. Both figures are well above the estimated European average of 5 000 m3 per caput per annum.
Carp culture is hampered by the relatively small area of country suitable for its maintenance and the climatic conditions which generally require three years for fish to grow to a desirable size. Trout culture, although continuing to be small scale, with slow growth when using cold water and sometimes limited water supplies, has better opportunities for expansion. In fact, in recent years it has expanded through use of water of good quality from new dams and pumped supply.
General traditions of good land and water use are among the most important factors contributing to preservation of the Austrian fisheries. Management of the fisheries varies considerably throughout the country because of the strong sense of individualism in the provinces - each of which, incidentally, corresponds approximately with the upper part of a river basin.
The abundance of cold water in Austria and the beauty of its Alpine stream and lake area make sport fishing very attractive both to residents and tourists. Pollution control and continuance of good land and water practices are necessary to ensure its continuance.
The commercial capture fisheries, an old tradition, will persist in some of the lakes (as in other Alpine countries) for some time, but will be far outstripped by recreational fisheries and other uses of these waters.
A moderate growth in aquaculture should continue, especially for trout - for which there is a good market. Carp farming has a lower profitability but will be maintained since there is little other use for its ponds.
10. REFERENCES SPECIFIC TO AUSTRIA
Austria, 1980 The situation of the fishery in Austria for the years 1979/80. In Country reports of EIFAC member-countries for intersessional period 1978–80, edited by K. Tiews (EIFAC meeting paper). Rome, FAO, EIFAC/80/Inf.4a:1–2 (mimeo)
Austria, 1978 Government of, Domestic and industrial water supply in Austria. E/CONF/70/ABSTRACT 77. In Water development and management. Proceedings of the United Nations Water Conference, Mar del Plata, Argentina, March 1977, edited by A.K. Biswas. Oxford, Pergamon Press, Vol.1, Part 4, p. 1983
Austria/EIFAC, 1974 Information on inland water fisheries production in Austria (response to a questionnaire, EIFAC/74/Circ. 10, Nov. 1974). Unpubl. mimeo
Austria/EIFAC, 1979 Information on inland water fisheries production in Austria. (Response to the EIFAC Secretariat.) Unpubl.
Austria/EIFAC, 1989 Information on inland water fisheries in Austria. (Response to the EIFAC Secretariat.) Unpubl.
Austrian Federal Chancellery, 1978 Austria: facts and figures. Vienna, Federal Press Service, 238 p.
Bruschek, E., 1971 Die Situation der österreichischen Fischerei in der Gegenwart. In Proceedings of the Symposium: New Ways of Freshwater Fishery Intensification. Ceské Budèjavice, 22–24 September 1971, edited by R. Berka. Vodnany, Czechoslovakia, Fisheries Research Institute, pp. 22–39
Butz, I., 1989 Fischproduktion und Umwelt. Österr.Fischerei, 42:285–9
Fenz, R. and F. Neiger, 1976 Hydraulic model tests as auxiliary means for a general plan of a chain of dams on the Austrian River Danube. Douzième Congrès International des Grands Barrages, Mexico, Mexique, 29 mars–2 avril 1976. Comptes rendus/Twelfth International Congress on Large Dams, Mexico City, Mexico, 29 March–2 April 1976. Transactions, Vol. 3 pp. 455–65
Guntschl, E., 1965 Der Schutzwasserbau in Österreich. Oesterr.Wasserwirtsch., 17(3/4):42–8
Hemsen, J., 1978 Austria. In Country reports of EIFAC Member countries for intersessional period, 1976–1978, edited by K. Tiews (EIFAC meeting paper). Rome, FAO, EIFAC/78/Inf. 7:1–3 (mimeo)
Hemsen, J., 1982 Austria. In Country reports of EIFAC member countries for intersessional period 1980–1982, edited by K. Tiews (EIFAC meeting paper). Rome, FAO, EIFAC/XII/82/16:1 (mimeo)
Kainz, E., 1969 Karpfenteichwirtschaft in Osterreich. Österr.Fischerei, p. 289
Kainz, E., 1983 Bedeutung und Produktion der Österreichischen Fischerei. Österr.Fischerei, 35:238–41
Keefe, E.K., et al., 1976 Area handbook for Austria. Washington, D.C., US Government Printing Office, (DA PAM 500–176):278 p.
Österreichische Fremdenverkehrswerbung, Angelsport in Österreich/Fishing in Austria/La pêche en Autriche. Wien, Österreichische Fremdenverkehrswerbung/Austrian National Tourist Office/Office National Autrichien du Tourisme, 35 p.
Republik Österreich, 1986 Österreichischen Statistischen Zentralamt, Statistisches Handbuch für die Republik Österreich, 36. Jahrgang, Neue Folge 1986, Wien, Österreichischen Statistischen Zentralamt, 664 p.
Rydlo, M. and E. Otte, 1972 Report from Austria. In Country reports on fish diseases and their control and national and international traffic of live fish and fish eggs/Rapports des pays sur les maladies de poisson et la lutte contre celles-ci et les echange nationaux et internationaux de poisson et d'oeufs de poisson vivants. Paper presented at EIFAC/CECPI Symposium on the Major Communicable Fish Diseases in Europe and their Control/Symposium sur les Principales Maladies Transmissibles des poissons en Europe et al Lutte Contre Celles-ci. 20–22 April/avril 1972. Amsterdam, The Netherlands/Pays-Bas. (EIFAC meeting paper). Rome, FAO, FI:EIFAC 72/SC II - Symp.9:pp.1–3 (mimeo)
Sampl, H., et al., 1989 Seenreinhaltung in Österreich. Hsgb.: Bundesministerium f.Land-u.Forstwirtschaft (BMLF), Wien
Sauerzopf, F., 1979 Projects involving Neusiedlersee. In Neusiedlersee: the limnology of a shallow lake in central Europe, edited by H. Löffler. The Hague, Dr W. Junk by Publishers, pp. 475–80
Spitzer, R., 1973 Crayfish in Austria: history and actual situation. In Freshwater crayfish. Papers from the First International Symposium on Freshwater Crayfish, Austria 1972, edited by S. Abrahamsson. Lund, Sweden, Studentlitteratur, pp. 9–14
Wurzer, E., et al. (eds), 1982 Seenreinhaltung in Österreich. Limnologie, Hygiene, Massnahmen Erfolge. Informationsschrift. Wasserwirtschaft, Heft 6 der Schriftenreihe:256 p.