• 5 December 2019: In preparation for the next Conference of Ministers, to be held in Amsterdam in 2020, the Rhine Basin’s environmental NGOs for the ecological continuity of the Upper Rhine publish a common position, in which they publicise their requirements for the re-establishment of the ecological continuity of the Rhine. Read the NGOs posiiton (french and german only).
  • 19 November 2019: A delegation of fishermen from the Deutscher Angelfischerverband e.V. has submitted a petition to the Dutch Parliament in The Hague calling for a reconsideration of net fishing before the Rhine estuary. The petition is supported by 23 other German, French and Swiss organisations. more info
  • August 2019: Commission urges FRANCE to step up efforts to restore the ecological flow of the Rhine River. more info
  • 4-5 July 2019: France communicates its general plan for the restoration of the ecological continuity of the Rhine between Rhinau and Vogelgron. Despite the implementation of the new “Living Rhine Plan“, which NGOs welcome and approve, they deplore the fact that the 2020 deadline originally planned, or any other deadline, is no longer included in the French programme.  The Delegations of Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, as well as the N.G.O.s from these same countries reacted strongly to this proposal, accusing France of wanting to escape the equipment of the large dams themselves, or of pushing it back at best to 2043.


  • 16.12. 2018, ERN and the Salmoncomeback Coalition file an EU complaint against France (non-compliance with the WFD in the preparation of fish continuity on the Franco-German Rhine). More infos
  • 15.11.2018, The Netherlands inaugurates Haringvliet opening. Press release
  • July 2018, On the occasion of the ICPR plenary session, France withdraws the project of a “Mobile Fish Pass” between Rhinau and Vogelgrün, which has been fought by ngOs. But they have not presented an alternative proposal.


  • November 2017 : the German Naturschutz Ring joins the SalmonComeback campaign
  • 21.06.2017 : SalmonComeback asks in a letter the new franz. Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot to discontinue the project “Mobile Fish Pass between Rhinau and Vogelgrün” and to build the fish ladders in Rhinau, Marckolsheim and Vogelgrün by 2020 Letter, Press release (in French)


  • 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.
  • 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.


    © WWF Switzerland


    © WWF Switzerland

    more pictures >>



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
  • 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
  • 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)


    © ERN France

    more pictures >>


    © WWF Switzerland

    more pictures >>



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).
  • 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”.
  • 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).

    © WWF Switzerland

    more pictures >>


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).
  • 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.

    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 >>

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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