by Maria Inês Monteiro da Conceição
Maria is Communications Advisor with World Fish Migration Foundation and Dam Removal Europe.
For the first time in Romania, a large-scale international conference discussed the problem of obsolete dams and artificial barriers on rivers. The event "Our waters - restoring the longitudinal connectivity of rivers in Romania" was organized by the World Fish Migration Foundation, Fauna & Flora, and Dam Removal Europe, and supported by the European Open Rivers Programme, the DANUBE4all project, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Trust for Mutual Understanding.
On November 8 2023, over 80 representatives of relevant authorities and civil society from Romania and abroad (Spain, Lithuania, USA, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, France, Portugal, Georgia and the Netherlands) gathered in Bucharest to present and debate the issue of river connectivity in the Romanian context. A special presence and involvement came from the Romanian Waters National Administration.
DANUBE4all was represented by Marcell Szabó-Mészáros, who presented a catalogue of actions and dimensions to define connectivity and discussed the longitudinal connectivity for fish in the Danube River Basin.The presentations shown during the event can be found on the Dam Removal Europe website.
Images: Speakers at the 'Our waters - restoring the longitudinal connectivity of rivers in Romania' Conference. ©WFMF
The second day of the event took the participants on a field trip to the Vâlsan River in Argeș County, home of the threatened Asprete fish – an ancient and amazing species which only exists in this river! Alex Găvan, Romanian high-altitude climber, conservationist and initiator of a project to protect the Asprete, accompanied the participants during the field trip, explaining the importance of protecting the river to save the Asprete. The little-known asprete is likely the rarest freshwater fish in Europe. The Vâlsan is the only known river where it can be found.
The conclusion of the event on November 8-9 is that Romania will also have to take concrete and effective measures to remove unused or abandoned barriers from rivers and restore the longitudinal connectivity of flowing waters. Fauna & Flora is currently implementing three projects in Romania, funded by the Open Rivers Program, which inventory unused barriers on rivers and implement actions aimed at raising awareness of the need to remove them.
Image 1, 2: Participant field trip to the Vâlsan River in Romania. ©WFMF
Image: An asprete ©Flora and Fauna International