This new edition of the From Sea to Source guidance seeks to educate, inform and inspire people who work on the preservation and restoration of migratory fish populations. The guidance contains unique examples from all corners of the world showing local problems and solutions for solving fish migration issues.
In 2012 our team proudly published the first global edition of our book “From Sea to Source”. This was a work intended to inform, educate and inspire those who wanted to know much more about how to meet the challenges that lie behind restoration of fish migration in rivers around the world. Whether the challenge is simply to increase access to spawning habitats through connectivity improvements for salmon, or to maintain the livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people dependent upon fish and fisheries in the great rivers of Asia, Africa and South America, we hoped our book would help to achieve these goals.
That book was very well received and we were delighted with the good reviews. This inspired us to move on. An important result was the establishment of the World Fish Migration Foundation in 2014 through which we now continue to share experiences and encourage the opening of rivers around the world for wildlife and the people who depend on them. Since the development of the World Fish Migration Foundation, many initiatives have been launched that promote a new vision: Connecting Fish, Rivers and People.
Not only are there at least a quarter of a billion people who depend on freshwater fish as their primary food source, but the related fishing industry is a vital economic resource, worth $90 billion annually in the USA alone. There is also a cultural aspect to fish populations and fisheries which has often been overlooked. People in many regions are rightly proud of their fishery traditions and they have a clear stake in restoring and protecting fish and their natural habitats.
Apart from the 15,000 freshwater fish species known to migrate in some way during their life cycle, there are over 1,100 iconic long-distance migratory fish that depend on free-flowing rivers to thrive. Among these are the great salmon runs of Alaska, the critically endangered sturgeon of Asia, the predatory tigerfish of Africa, the largest freshwater catfish of the Mekong, the highly migratory dorado in the Amazon and the wonderful ayu of Japan. Working together with international fish experts we have included details in this book on some of these key iconic migratory fish species and other less well-known fish from around the world in the hopes that this can be used to draw much-needed attention to these species and the pressures they face.
It is crucial that migratory fish can fulfil their entire lifecycle without the danger, delays and disturbance caused by migration barriers. For most species a barrier-free river system is sufficient, but many other salmonids, eels and lampreys also need free migration out into estuaries and oceans to fulfil their entire lifecycle. As you will see, the threats to these habitats are well documented.
At least half of all the flow in the rivers of the world is artificially manipulated or fragmented, and our resource of truly wild free flowing rivers is now more threatened than ever. Only 64 of the 177 rivers, longer than 1,000 km, are free-flowing and yet there are proposals for more than 3,500 new large dams in Asia, Africa and South America.