[en] obstacle ; migration ; fish ; leaping capacity ; Meuse River basin ; Belgium
[en] In the course of the 'Meuse Salmon 2000' programme, most weirs and dams (3-8 m in height) in the regulated River Meuse have been progressively equipped with new fishways in order to restore the free circulation of all amphibiotic fish species. Nevertheless, fish entering into major spawning tributaries are still confronted with various kinds of physical obstacles of which the overall impact on fish migration has never been investigated. In order to test their ability to negotiate physical obstacles, 128 individuals of fish ( Salmo trutta, Thymallus thymallus, Salmo salar, Chondrostoma nasus, Barbus barbus and Esox lucius) were captured several weeks before their spawning migrations and tagged with radio-transmitters. They were tracked from 30 to 466 days in the River Ourthe and six spawning tributaries over the period October 1995 to June 2001. All obstacles recorded in this study have been classified according to their type and main characteristics (i.e. slope, length and height). Results indicated that most fish migrate during or outside the spawning period and that some small obstacles are not as insignificant as initially thought and can significantly disrupt and/or obstruct their upstream movements. There is a need to harmonize interests in the sustainable conservation of fish populations and the development of small-scale hydropower generation and tourism.