9 October 2008
BASEL — A salmon was caught in Switzerland for the first time since 1958 after a round trip of over 1,200 miles (almost 2,000 kilometres), raising hopes the fish may soon find its way back to the country in greater numbers, officials said Wednesday.
Fisherman Thomas Wanner caught the Atlantic salmon Sunday, according to Switzerland’s environment ministry.
The 36-inch (91-centimetre) female was photographed, certified and then released back into the Birs, a branch of the river Rhine that flows through Basel.
In the 1930s an average of 120 salmon were caught in Basel, but the fish wasn’t seen since 1958.
Erich Staub, an official with the environment ministry, said the catch was probably the result of efforts to encourage salmon to return to Basel by releasing 50,000 eggs a year into its rivers.
Judging from the salmon’s size it likely travelled down the Rhine into the open sea before returning upstream to spawn, Staub said.
The distance from Basel to the North Sea is roughly 620 miles. The Rhine flows through Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands before reaching the North Sea, although branches reach into other countries, as well.
Countries along the Rhine worked for years to improve the river’s water quality, as well as build "steps" that allow the fish to get through obstacles such as dams and hydroelectric stations.
[AP / Expatica]