Campaign actions

  • 20 May 2016, World Fish Migration Day (WFMD) event in Basel organized by WWF Switzerland. The WFMD is a global event to raise awareness on the importance of open rivers and migratory fish. See pictures and videos.


    © WWF Switzerland


    © WWF Switzerland

    more pictures >>

  • 19 May 2016, Inauguration of Strasbourg fish pass. See the press reports and interview (in French only, article in the DNA or RUE 89)
  • May 2016, Official letter sent to the French Ministry of Ecology to support the letter sent by the European Commission which asked France for a sustainable fishway for Rhinau, Marckolsheim and Vogelgrün, and confirmed that the mobile fishway is not enough. Read the letter (French only)
  • 22 March 2016, Participation in a workshop about Vogelgrün, organized by the ICPR in Koblenz, whith EDF participation.



The third year of the “Salmon Comeback” campaign was all about media actions and advocacy work to obtain and debate the exact schedule for the performance of works, to ascertain the effectiveness of the mobile fish passes and to suggest alternatives with the support and expertise of the network and the coalition.

Campaign actions

  • 1-3 October 2015, Organization of an international “Atlantic salmon summit” in Huningue, Alsace. Around 120 people participated in the 4 days of the seminary and 40 people participated in the excursions. Link to the summit


    © ERN France

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  • June 2015, Media action in front of the «EDF Grand Est» office in Mulhouse to ask the exact schedule for the performance of works. About 20 activists symbolically blocked access of buildings with a 2.5 meters high dam. A stepladder symbolizing the fish pass. Afterwards, the delegation was received by EDF.
    Download the 2 press release (in French): 4 june 2015 and 17 june 2015


    © WWF Switzerland

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  • April 2015, Open letter sent to the French Ministry of Ecology expressing our growing concern about the attitude of EDF regarding the restoration of ecological continuity of the Rhine.
    Download the letter (in French)



The second year of the “Salmon Comeback” campaign focused on discussions and meetings about the technical feasibility of the solutions proposed by France and the EDF to restore ecological continuity of the Upper Rhine (a mobile fishway), as announced at the Ministerial Conference on the Rhine in Basel (28 October 2013).

Campaign actions

  • December 2014, Discussion with the representative of the French Ministry of Ecology to express dissatisfaction with the timetable proposed by EDF and the feasibility of short-term solution.
  • November 2014, 18 people of France, Germany and Switzerland (NGOs and State departments) and EDF participated in a trans-border journey about Restrheine restoration. Download the report of the day (in French or in German).


    Visit of the Kinzing works © ERN France

  • September 2014, A delegation of the coalition took part in Vogelgrün seminar, organized by the ICPR.  The seminar gathered scientists, NGOs, EDF and state departments of France, Germany and Switzerland. New solutions (from Switzerland) to restore ecological continuity in Vogelgrün have emerged and were discussed.
  • July 2014, Visit of the EDF lab in Chatou (France). In this research center, a model of the old Rhine was created to simulate the effect of renaturation by sedimentary discharge and deflector creation.
  • June 2014, School kids from Birsfelden released 3000 juvenile salmons into the Birs (a tributary of the Rhine) – a regular measure by local authorities, fishermen and WWF Switzerland, conducted within the ICPR project “salmon 2020”.

    © WWF Switzerland

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  • March 2014, Meeting with EDF to discuss the details of the short-term solutions announced at the Rhine Ministers conference in Basel in October 2013. This event was also an opportunity to visit the Strasbourg hydropower plant and its fish pass (under construction).


    Visit of the Strasbourg hydropower plant © ERN France

What did we obtain in 2014? Click to read more

In 2014, during meetings with EDF, we soon realized that no technically feasible solution existed and that their proposed solution required lengthy preliminary studies which would delay the installation of fish passes between Rhinau and Vogelgrün even more. Therefore, we came to the conclusion that EDF follows a “hidden agenda” behind its short-term solution of a “portable fishway “. They were stalling for time to avoid making the necessary changes to the Mackolsheim, Rhinau and Vogelgrün power stations in time.

The following Vogelgrün workshop, organized by the ICPR together with international experts, restored our confidence, since it became clear that a technical solution was still possible (a traditional fishway with passage through the lock via a tunnel and an underwater entry). Thus the Rhinau, Mackolsheim and Vogelgrün power stations could technically be equipped with functioning “traditional” fishways by 2020, whereas the portable fishway proposed by EDF would be technically difficult to implement and would deal with the fish selectively (only salmon).

In addition, we organized some meetings concerning the restoration of the Old Rhine habitats in order to start the discussions again and facilitate cross-border cooperation. Soon the Old Rhine will be “open” for salmons. It is still necessary to upgrade its habitats and spawning grounds to guarantee a successful reproduction even if a lot has already been done in the Old Rhine.



In 2013, we asked in concrete terms the French government and EDF to take action to restore the ecological continuity on Strasbourg and Gerstheims’s dams (construction of two fishways with an investment of 15 million euros per dam), to study, plan and equip Rhinau, Marckolsheim and Vogelgrün’s dams so that migratory fish potentially can reach Basel by 2020 and to organize an international seminar about the Vogelgrün problematic.

Campaign actions

  • October 2013, Handover of the petition signed by 12,797 people to a representative of the French Minister (Laurent Roy, Water Director), just before the ministerial conference in Basel. Ahead of the ministerial conference, a symbolic journey was organized, where a giant 4 m salmon traveled all the way through the streets of Strasbourg (France), Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany) and Basel (Switzerland).


    Petition’s handover to the representative of the french minister of Ecology. Left to right: Ruedi Bösiger (WWF CH), Laurent Roy (french water Director), Roberto Epple (ERN France) © WWF Switzerland

    more pictures >>

  • September 2013, Official letter sent to the French Ministry of Ecology to support our petition and in which we demanded a clear statement and road map to reach the 2020 objective.
    Read the petition
  • May 2013, Meeting with EDF to discuss the details of the planned schedule for restoring ecological continuity in the Rhine.
What did we obtain in 2013? Click to read more

The first year, the campaign had resulted in encouraging announcements from EDF and France regarding the restoration of ecological continuity in the Upper Rhine. The construction work in Strasbourg and Gerstheim had begun or had been planned. In October 2013, at the Conference of Rhine Ministers in Basel, the representative of the French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy emphasized France’s desire to create the necessary conditions for salmon to return to Basel by 2020. France and EDF had committed to implement a dual management to the 3 upper dams (short-term and long-term solutions) in order to meet the 2020 deadline. The short-term solution was a portable fishway (with an underwater trap that could be lifted into the lock), the long-term solution was a “classic” fishway. The Ministry also accepted the NGOs’ proposal to organize a seminar in 2014 (by the ICPR) to share the experience of Vogelgrün and the related problematic issues.

EDF and France proposed a special passing and catching system (a mobile fishway) at Rhinau power station. This should enable migratory fish to be guided into an underwater cage with Rhine water flowing through it. Every two to three days, the cage with the fish would be pulled through the sluices at Marckolsheim and Vogelgrün by ships and then be released into the Old Rhine (see the picture below).
At the same time, according to the French Ministry, Rhinau and Marckholsheim were to be equipped with (traditional) fishways but they would not be functional until around 2020. And for Vogelgrün, there is still no long-term solution.


Short-term solution between Rhinau and Vogelgrün
Source: DNA, January 16, 2015, document from EDF

The “Salmon Come Back” campaign is launched by WWF Switzerland and coordinated internationally by ERN (European Rivers Network)

The “Salmon Come Back” campaign is launched by WWF Switzerland and coordinated internationally by ERN (European Rivers Network)
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