Global Swimways

Through this project we will evaluate the potential ecological impact on migratory fish species from the global proliferation of dams. This overarching aim is underpinned by several novel analyses and policy outputs that will help to inform decision makers on avoiding or minimizing the environmental costs of dam construction when planning to meet the rising demands for water and hydropower.


This project Global Swimways will be the first step toward connecting fish, rivers and people globally using a new “Swimways” concept, where a swimway is defined as a path used in fish migration. Swimways may span distances of more than 1,000 km traversing oceans, lakes and rivers. The concept of a swimway is essentially an operational concept linked to freshwater fishes whose populations need to be managed over their entire migration range. The long-term ambition is to develop an updated global overview of migratory fish and swimways (with input from international experts) and to integrate this as part of the World Fish Migration Day. This is intended to provide decision makers with relevant and up-to-date information and to stimulate international information exchange, collaboration and awareness.


This project will achieve these aims through working towards the following objectives:


1. To classify and map the worlds freshwater fishes according to their migration patterns.

2. To develop a tool allowing policy makers and river managers to assess the impact of future infrastructure development on migratory freshwater fishes.

3. To actively advocate for conservation of migratory fishes with relevant decision makers.

4. To raise awareness of the societal benefits of migratory fish species and their vulnerability to future infrastructure developments.


The project Global Swimways – balancing conservation of migratory fishes and development is financed by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. It will be carried out between the first of September 2019 and the end of September 2020.


The partners of the project are:


- IUCN: Global Species Programme (Freshwater Biodiversity Unit)

- UNEP-WCMC: Science Programme

- University of Cambridge: Department of Zoology

- World Fish Migration Foundation (WFMF)


Voluntary advisory roles:

- BirdLife International




Date Jul 10, 2019
Category International
Organisation World Fish Migration Foundation