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World fish migraotory day and importance of migratory fish species

World Fish Migration Day | Migratory Fish Species Threats | Importance of Fish Migration

25 May 2024 is World Fish Migration Day (WFMD). This is a global event and is held every two years. World Fish Migration Foundation is mainly behind this. This day is celebrated to raise awareness about the importance of migratory fish species and free-flowing rivers. Moreover, it aims to highlight the challenges faced by migratory fish species. It also focuses on the importance of fish migration and the economic benefits of healthy migrations. Besides this, the day also highlights the connections that migratory fish species have with human and non-human species, lands, and waters.

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World Fish Migration involves various activities to educate the public about migratory fish species. Moreover, this also educates them about the impacts of barriers they face, such as dams and pollution. It emphasizes the need for sustainable management of the freshwater ecosystem. Many communities around the world rely on migratory fish for food, culture, and livelihood. This increases the importance of fish migration. On the other hand, many species of migratory fish are critically endangered and threatened.

Migratory Fish Species

Migratory fish are species that move between different habitats at various stages of their life cycle. These fish often travel long distances to spawn, feed, or find suitable living conditions. These migrations are usually essential for their survival and reproduction. This sheds light on the importance of fish migration. Moreover, the movement patterns of migratory fish can be broadly categorized into several types based on the habitats they traverse.

Many fish species, such as salmon and sturgeon, migrate long distances to spawn in specific habitats. Free-flowing rivers provide uninterrupted pathways essential for these migrations. Fish like eels migrate from the ocean to freshwater to mature. Tuna and Shark are also among migratory species. These also include  marlin, sailfish, swordfish, saury and  dolphins.

World fish migraotory day and importance of migratory fish species

World Fish Migration Day Theme 2024

This is the sixth edition of World Fish Migration Day. This year WFMD carries the theme “Free Flow.” This theme emphasizes the importance of free-flowing rivers for the well-being of migratory fish and ecosystems. Besides this, it also aims to raise global awareness about the critical role and importance of migratory fish species. Free-flowing rivers are those that remain largely unaffected by man-made barriers like dams, weirs, or locks.

Barriers in rivers can obstruct these migrations. Furthermore, this is disrupting their life cycles and reducing their populations. Free-flowing rivers can help dilute and remove pollutants. However, this also maintains water quality essential for the health of fish and other aquatic organisms. The natural turbulence in free-flowing rivers increases oxygen levels in the water. On the other hand. this oxygen level is crucial for the survival of fish and other aquatic life.

Free-flowing rivers support a variety of habitats. These include riffles, pools, and floodplains. Furthermore, this is necessary for the different life stages of fish. These habitats offer breeding grounds, feeding areas, and refuge from predators.

History of World Fish Migration Day

The idea of celebrating fish migration was first proven successful in the North Sea Region on May 14, 2011. During this event, partners of the Living North Sea Project, funded by the European Union, also participated. They worked to raise awareness about fish passage issues across 25 locations in seven countries. The event gained significant publicity through regional and national media. Moreover, they also include social media. It highlighted the importance of fish migration.

Following the success of this event, Dutch conservationist Herman Wanningen from the World Fish Migration Foundation collaborated with various organizations worldwide. They established a global day of celebration to raise awareness for the importance of fish migratory species These organizations include The Nature Conservancy, WWF, and the Freshwater Fish Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (FFSG-IUCN). This led to the creation of World Fish Migration Day (WFMD). However, this day was first celebrated in 2014. WFMD is now typically held every second year in May, coordinated by the World Fish Migration Platform.

Importance of Migratory Fish Species

It is the time to highlight the importance of fish migration. Migratory fish contribute to nutrient cycling between different ecosystems. For instance, salmon transport marine nutrients to freshwater environments. The migratory fish migrations help to maintain the biodiversity and ecological health of both freshwater and marine ecosystems. This migration supports many species that rely on migratory fish as a food source.

Migratory fish use currents, magnetic fields, and their sense of taste and smell to navigate. Many people around the world depend on them for food. Importance of Migratory Fish Species demands its conservation.

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Migratory Fish Threats

Despite the importance of migratory fish species, many migratory fish face challenges such as dams and other barriers. These barriers disturb the natural flow of rivers which prevent their migratory routes. However, many species of migratory fish are critically endangered due to these barriers.

The importance of Fish Migration is also crucial for the food chain. Besides this, they play an important role in creating a healthy river ecosystem. Due to this, the survival of migratory fish is important.

The 2020 Living Planet Index has reported a decline in migratory freshwater fish populations. These fish are crucial for connecting aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Moreover, they act as key components in food chains and sustain the livelihoods of millions of people. To protect these species, it is essential to raise awareness. Furthermore, it is important to garner support for the restoration of free-flowing rivers.

Conservation efforts

Conservation if important due to importance of migratory fish species in ecosystm. We can protect Fish migration by removing barriers to restore natural river flows. Dams, weirs, and other barriers that obstruct migratory routes are a major threat to fish. By removing obsolete dams and constructing fish passages or ladders can restore natural migration pathways. The removal of the Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River in Maine and the Elwha Dam in Washington State has led to significant ecological recovery. This helps the return of migratory fish species. Implementing fishing regulations such as catch limits, size limits, and seasonal restrictions helps sustainable fish populations.

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Editor In Chief
Dr. Jassar Aftab is a qualified Veterinarian having expertise in veterinary communication. He is a renowned veterinary Journalist of Pakistan. He is veterinary columnist, veterinary writer and veterinary analyst. He is the author of three books. He has written a number of articles and columns on different topics related to livestock, dairy, poultry, wildlife, fisheries, food security and different aspects of animal sciences and veterinary education.

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