Inland Fisheries

Fishways: biological basis, design criteria and monitoring

Rehabilitation & mitigation

Fisheries in inland waters have long provided an important source of food for mankind. With the objective to make the use of the resources sustainable and to improve food security and livelihoods, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been concerned for decades with inland fishery issues, both through a variety of field-based activities and through its Regular Programme. One way to achieve this objective is through the development of sustainable fisheries management practices which are not only important to manage fisheries in developing countries but are also of relevance for more affluent countries.

Inland fisheries, in general, are characterised by the high degree with which they are interrelated with other uses of the aquatic resource. In most areas of the world, the principal impacts on fisheries do not originate from the fishery itself but from outside the fishery; this is particularly true for inland fisheries. Consequently, most aspects of conservation and sustainability of the resource are under the control of a wide range of interests which are often perceived to be of superior social and financial importance for society. Avoiding or mitigating negative impacts is thus very much a question of negotiation and consultation with these other stakeholders. The fishery has to be managed within the constraints imposed by external sectors and, while there is space for conventional management of the fishery as such, much attention needs to be paid to techniques for mitigation or rehabilitation of external impacts.

Far reaching changes to the aquatic environment arising from human activities such as wetland reclamation for agriculture, urbanization, waste disposal, water extraction and transfer, as well as navigation and damming for irrigation and hydropower production have led to major modifications of inland water habitats with significant repercussions on fish stocks. In accordance with the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the related relevant Technical Guidelines, FAO’s Fisheries Department, through its Major Work Programme Activities, aims at promoting sustainable development of responsible fisheries by advocating inter alia the rehabilitation of the aquatic environment as a proper tool for management of inland waters for fish and fisheries.

This book “Fishways: Biological Basis, Design Criteria and Monitoring” is a compilation of modern knowledge of all aspects concerning the planning and construction of fishpasses as well as their monitoring for effectiveness. Emphasising the need to take into consideration biological and behavioural characteristics of the species, it describes in detail the engineering options that are available today to make obstacles passable. It thus helps to raise awareness with regard to the availability of mitigation measures.

This book was already available in French for some years but translating it and publishing it in English will make the valuable information contained in it accessible for an even broader audience. By co-publishing it with FAO, the book gets a much wider distribution that is important to make known as widely as possible the availability of these mitigation measures. It will thus also more easily reach developing countries where dam constructions are still frequently undertaken and where there is a great need to incorporate mitigation measures into dam projects.