Norwegian Salmon Need Help Getting Up the Stairs

Several of the fish passes (salmon ladders) in Norwegian rivers are functioning badly. This is why the Directorate for Nature Management (DN) wants to restore or rebuild more than 80 passes throughout the country.  Today there are over 420 fish passes in Norway and approx. 360 of them are designed for anadromous salmonid, i.e. fish that swim from the ocean and up rivers to spawn. A review of the fish passes revealed that many are not working well enough and need restoration or reconstruction. Rivers in the counties of Finnmark, Nordland and Nord-Trøndelag have most facilities in need of restoration.

Flooding and erosion – There are several reasons for that fish passes are not working properly. One important reason is the damage caused by weather conditions, wear and tear, flooding or drifting ice.

Another reason for malfunctions can be wrong positioning of the entrance to the fish pass and many fish passes operate with too low water flow, preventing the fish to continue, “says Hanne Hegseth at DN.

The total cost to implement the measures will be in the region of NOK 16-17 mill. (£1.8 -1.9 mill.).  DN wishes to complete the work in a five-year period, from 2011 to 2015. The proposed measures are part of the revised action plan for restoration of fish passes for anadromous salmonid, which is now out for consultation.

Anglers get an extra 2,500 kilometres (1,600 miles) river stretches. – Economic calculations have shown that virtually all fish pass projects are
economically viable given that the fish passes function properly. On a national basis, these fish passes provide public access to fishing around 2,500 kilometres extra river stretches,” says Hanne Hegseth.

Fish passes are developed and designed so the fish should be able to overcome some natural or artificial barriers in a river. The passes give salmon access to larger areas to reproduce and grow up, so that the basis for the different stocks is strengthened.

Preserving endangered populations – Today, construction of fish passes is an important part of the nation’s effort to safeguard endangered salmon and sea trout stocks and to restore rivers where stocks have been wiped out. Many fish passes have been established in connection with hydropower development, to compensate for reduced water flow in river or to maintain original migration routes.

DN provides grants every year for restoration and construction of fish passes with funds from the Government’s Fishing Funds. This year, it provided grants for the restoration of passes on the Mathis River, Kongsfjord River, Repparfjord River and Stabbur River in Finnmark,; the Todal River in More og Romsdal, Aagaard River in Østfold and the Øyensåa River in Nord-Trøndelag.


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