Chances for Salmon

Salmon is one of the (few) animal success stories in environmental protection. In Germany the salmon resettlement projects on the Rhine and Elbe are well-known. Since 1995 a total of over 1.6 million young salmon have been released into the Elbe tributaries in Saxon and Bohemian Switzerland. In autumn 1998 the first 27 spawn fish returned to their native waters from the three-year long journey of their youth to Greenland. In 1999 this number increased to 76 and in the year 2000 there were 200 home-comers.


There is a wealth of knowledge and experience in the rearing and releasing of salmon into the wild. However, many streams and rivers with good quality water are blocked. In the course of the Salmon Project on the Elbe and its tributaries there have been some model measures for the optimisation of streams, many more are planned or being considered. The region around the Mulde, a larger Elbe tributary, plays a particularly significant role in this.


Description of the salmon

Appearance: moderate size, rounded in shape. Strong teeth. Colour at spawning time: dark back, blue side, reddish underside, dark spots.


Size and weight: after1 year: 50 - 65 cm, 1.5 - 3 kg; after 2 years: 70 - 90 cm, 4 - 8 kg; after 3 years: 8 -13 kg, maximum: 150 cm, 36 kg.


Birthplace: upper reaches of larger rivers and their tributaries.


Behaviour: migrant fish which, when it reaches a length of 20 cm, swims downstream into the North Sea and as far as Greenland. After 1 to 3 years the grilse return to the river to spawn. Most salmon die after spawning.


Dangers: the canalisation of streams and rivers, unsurmountable dam steps, motor boats, pollution. In no German rivers today are there fish originating from indigenous salmon.