The FIBER seminar about fish biodiversity in Switzerland painted a dark picture about the current state.
Introduction to fish biodiversity in Switzerland
I had the pleasure of attending the FIBER-Seminar about biodiversity of fish in Switzerland. It was an event that delved deep into the fascinating world of the astonishing diversity of Swiss fish. As an avid explorer of nature and all its hidden treasures, this seminar promised to be a unique opportunity to unravel the mysteries beneath the crystal-clear surfaces of our lakes, rivers, and streams. Yet, already after one presentation, it became evident that there is a steep decline.
Speakers of the Seminar
The seminar featured a diverse lineup of speakers, including researchers in biology, PhDs, and specialists from the private sector. Andrin Krähenbühl, the organizer from FIBER, kicked off the event with a concise presentation challenging the definition of species, highlighting instances of interbreeding in fish species like bream and common roach. He emphasized the vulnerability of ecosystems on various levels and underscored the crucial role of anglers as early indicators of environmental changes, emphasizing the need for research.
Freshwater Biodiversity Paradox
Prof. Dr. Ole Seehausen discussed the freshwater biodiversity paradox, noting that despite freshwater being less abundant than saltwater, both environments host around 15,000 different fish species. Freshwater has faced a global crisis in fish species since 1980, with a 50% reduction in the last 30 years. The increase in the Fish Atlas number of species is attributed to genetic improvements rather than ecosystem enhancements. Switzerland’s international responsibility for fish conservation is evident in the WWF report on the “world’s forgotten fish.”
Decline in Fish Species and Stocking Issue
Danilo Foresti, a fisheries biologist from the Office for Hunting and Fishing of the Canton of Ticino, reported that 50% of fish in southern Switzerland are indigenous, with 37% of indigenous species facing extinction. Catfish and perch are among the increasing fish numbers.
Podium Discussion with speakers and BAFU representative
Dominique Stalder highlighted the genetic similarity between lake trout and brown trout, emphasizing their distinct survival strategies—resident versus migratory behavior. The discussion also touched on the topic of stocking trout, with Dominique noting that stocked trout tend to migrate earlier and are susceptible to predation due to their smaller size.
Dr. David Bittner passionately advocated for the conservation of declining fish species, drawing attention to the detrimental impact of hydro-power stations on eel populations during their migratory route to the sea. The ongoing massacre raises questions about the effectiveness of fishing bans while these facilities continue their destructive practices.
Dr. Dario Josi, a behavioral ecologist, presented an insightful approach to examining the future of fish species and their distribution. Historic paintings depicting rivers in a former state resembling paradise left a lasting impression.
Dr. Pascal Vonlanthen delved into the “project lac,” exploring the variety in coregonus species (alpine whitefish) and highlighting the alarming number of extinct species. The exhibition at the Natural Museum of Berne showcases these extinct Coregonus species (alpine whitefish), serving as a poignant reminder of the urgent need for conservation efforts.
The FIBER Seminar on Swiss Fish Biodiversity painted a dire picture, emphasizing the urgent need for conservation. Leaving the event, we became more aware of the interconnected challenges in Switzerland’s aquatic ecosystems. We share a responsibility to preserve the diverse fish species. FIBER’s role in knowledge transfer is crucial for informed and sustainable actions.
 Fischerei Beratung, i.e. “fishery consulting” organization.