Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More

LOVE FLOWS World Fish Migration Day Documentary featuring Jasper Pääkkönen and Zeb Hogan

My name is Josh Royte, senior scientist for
the Nature Conservancy in the US state of Maine. I serve on the advisory board
of the World Fish Migration Foundation. Which produces world fish migration day, from sea to source guidance books and many other projects that connect people
to rivers and gives them the tools to understand promote and restore rivers to
their natural free-flowing state. This is world fish migration day. Have
you heard about it? And even more did you know that nearly all fish travel
throughout their rivers? Some up and downstream some go to the ocean and then
thousands of miles beyond before returning back to their streams. Did you
know that once upon a time massive fish migrations was something that happened
all around the world yearly? People and wildlife evolved around these natural
wonders, they depended on the cycle of life and now that dams and other barriers
nearly wiped them out, we’re turning the corner. We’re starting to bring these
migrations back. World fish migration day was created to
reconnect people to our rivers. To excite both fishers and decision-makers to the
wonders of our rivers. Ultimately we want to help find a path
to restore fish passage and protect rivers that haven’t lost their
connections yet. This celebration has grown so big it’s really surprised us
all. The feedback from the thousands of people and dozens of countries around
the world makes us realize there’s a much larger importance here, of
connecting passionate people together. To hear each other stories and to learn how
to support each other’s river restoration work. After working so
intently with the amazing world fish migration team I realized I needed to
get myself out on the ground and by the water to see these celebrations in
person. I celebrated world fish migration day in Richmond Virginia.
Richmond like so many cities around the world was built on a river. In this case
it was the historic James River, just a few hours southwest of our nation’s
capital and this is a place where the right mix of people were able to pull
together really fun and uplifting event. So you decided maybe not out of the blue
to host a world fish migration Day event here in Richmond, how did that happen.
I do river restoration as my job and as part of that I started doing fish
passage work and many years ago I started going to the fish passage
conference that was out of Amherst and I started hearing about its event, while
attending that conference, and I got more involved with the the committee’s that
helped establish that conference and so being on that National Committee and just becoming more aware of it, it was in 2016 when they had the happy fish at the conference, I was
like this is awesome, I’ve got to host one
of these in my town. Oh good for you. Kathy Hoverman from KCI had assembled a many parted event with help from James River Association US Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Game and Fisheries and also American Rivers. Kathy is just one of those rare people with this mix of solid engineering chops, ecological know-how and a passion for rivers and ability to make things happen. And what got you even interested in rivers and fish to begin with, this has
always been a passion of yours. Well it was a discovered passion, I’d say I
always loved being outside in the nature and hiking and just being athletic
outside and then when I started studying engineering in school I
realized there was kind of something missing from the civil engineering for
me wastewater and drinking water just didn’t have a spark to it, so I picked up
a conservation degree and while doing that I took an ecology class excellent
and rivers was a featured system of that ecology class and from there I just I
quit my job in the concrete lab. I started working for the ecology
professor and it just took off from there and so it was it was ready to
be made I just needed the right spark to really lead me in that
direction. While Kathy and the James River event partners were preparing themselves
for this long day of multiple events on the river, there are hundreds of other
events going on around the world. For world fish migration day 2018 we
decided to have regional hubs. Headquarters that could bring together
information from events all around each of the continents. The James River event
in Virginia was the hub for North America. In Europe the hub was Finland. This included a full day of conferences led
by WWF Finland, local authorities and a famous Finnish actor, Jasper Pääkkönen,
Jasper is a strong advocate for rivers and someone that attracts a
great deal of interest and coverage throughout Finland and well beyond.
In Africa the hub was centred in Kruger National Park South Africa where there
was a four day celebration. the National Museum of Natural History
in La Paz, Bolivia, was the continental hub for South America.
The Mahseer trust hosted to the Asia hub in the country of India. With two days of
events for children and people of many river communities.
By the end of world fish migration day 2018. When the sunset on the islands of Hawaii.
There had been over five hundred and seventy events celebrated in 63
countries around the world. Over three thousand organizations joined together
to find solidarity in their love and work on behalf of rivers. The James River is lucky to have so many
amazing partners. There’s nothing like seeing a river from the water, feeling
the currents, seeing the birds and the floodplain forests and in Richmond
there’s riverside trails that connect to the park of this vibrant city. This river
is alive with fish migrations now. And the city is making the river one of the
best places to experience nature. To find the calm and beauty that can seem so
remote for way too many people these days. Our organization and bike walk RVA
and a number of other organizations put pressure on the city to really fund
that. To make sure that the riverfront was a priority that it was was going to
be a place where the public come and really enjoy the river and appreciate
this resource that we have. For a long time like many cities around the country
the James had a very polluted downtown area. We had raw sewage in the river
in the mid 20th century. It wasn’t until the Clean Water Act in 1972 that we
started to see those kinds of improvements where we weren’t dumping raw
sewage and other kinds of waste into the river. My brother and sister-in-law
where I was asking to come if they’re gonna stop by the Bosher dam and
they’re like: The Bosher dam? Where is the Bosher dam. There’s a dam on the James?
And just you know that idea that they actually cross over the roadway that’s
right adjacent to the dam. Probably a couple times a week and they
had no idea that it was even a dam. It’s really interesting that the
events in Richmond were centered around an existing dam. Well dams are almost
always a problem for rivers and fish. The tour at the Bosher dam showed us how fish
ladders are engineered, to help many fish and get past. There they’re giving tours
so people can see what a fish way is how it works how it functions, how it fits
into the landscape and and how the fish can use that to basically bypass and get
around the dam. A lot of smart engineering goes into making fish
ladders and fish lifts when dam removal isn’t really an option and while it
still makes for a difficult journey for migratory fish, technical fishways can
help in some cases to get fish both upstream and downstream to complete
their life cycle. This is just one more way in which people can learn about what
culverts and dams and and things like that can do to the species and just the
food web and how things interact. You might be asking yourself what
exactly is a free-flowing river? For most people we think of rivers as beautiful
places with moving water, that transports people and fish. It’s really hard to know
what’s going on below the waterline. So a free-flowing river is one that’s
connected in four fundamental ways. It maintains upstream and downstream
connectivity, so that sediments and water can flow downstream and fish can flow
upstream and that’s really critical. Unfortunately barriers like dams can
block rivers and stop that connectivity Second is their connection laterally, so
the ability of water to move out onto the floodplain and back into the channel.
This is really important for sediment flows that flow into floodplains and
create habitats and so on on the floodplain. A third way is for rivers to
maintain their vertical connectivity. So the river water table to
move down into the groundwater and into aquifers which can serve as reservoirs
for water for human and environmental use. And then the fourth way is seasonally, for the river to maintain its ebbs and
flows over time. Well fish migration is a natural process fish live in rivers and
in the ocean and they’re always moving around, but they migrate primarily to
reproduce to have their young. So for example anadromous species fish, like
salmon and steelhead trout, will actually live in the ocean and then they come
back into the freshwater rivers where they were born, to lay their eggs, to
spawn, to have their eggs fertilized and then the eggs hatch and the juvenile
fish grow up in the rivers and then eventually go back out to sea. Fishes,
freshwater fishes, they don’t have a voice. They’re living under water. They’re
living in a world that people don’t experience very often. It’s difficult to
to see what’s going on underneath the water in freshwater and people just
don’t know about them. I mean and some of these fish they’re incredible
fish that can grow up to 10 feet in length and so you think the
Mekong giant catfish, world’s largest freshwater fish, and 99% of the people on
earth have never even heard of it. So you have these incredibly large
charismatic important fish that nobody’s ever heard about.
So for example a free-flowing river has a lower temperature, it flows quickly and
fish have evolved in that environment. If you put a dam in you change that
free-flowing river to a slow-moving reservoir. The temperatures go up. The flow of
the river is slower and fish haven’t evolved in that environment so they
don’t do well in that. The rivers of the world need to be
protected for several reasons. We as human beings need it. We need the rivers
to provide us with food for example. It’s a basic necessity and we don’t have
fisheries if we don’t have rivers. Many of the world’s most important fisheries
depend on free-flowing rivers. We’re not only talking about salmon. We’re talking
about many tropical species as well, that completely depend on free-flowing
moving rivers. Not only do humans need rivers to provide us with food or
provide us with experiences around nature, but the globe, the planet needs
rivers. Rivers are the veins, the life source of the planet. Humankind has been
quite efficient in destroying those veins by damming, by other acts. We’ve
been pretty passionate in using our strengths and using our force into
chaining those rivers and essentially destroying them. Man has historically had the urge and
the need to chain rivers. When we understood that we can build a dam, all of a sudden
the passion to destroy all these rivers to build them, to use them, to create
electricity and other things needed in the industrial world, basically created
this big boom of damming every single river. Every water that moves was dammed. The myth of hydropower being clean and
green is an absurd thought. When you build a dam to create hydropower,
essentially you’re destroying that river and the whole ecosystem around it. There
are no fish moving up and down the river to their migration spots when there’s a
dam blocking that migration. But also dams nowadays we know are a huge cause
and source of greenhouse emissions, such as methane emissions. So essentially they
are a big contributor to climate change. How can you ever call that green or
clean, in terms of being an energy source, when it’s the complete
polar opposite of that. The majority of people in the world are not aware of the
fact that dams are actually a big source of environmental problems and that’s
partly because of this very successful advertising campaign of making green
washing hydropower as a clean source of energy. But luckily nowadays during
the only during the last few years people all around the world have started
understanding that that dams are actually not green, nor clean as
a source of energy. I was five years old in 1968. That’s when
Lyndon B Johnson announced to the nation his imperative to protect our rivers.
After hundreds of years of damming them and polluting them it was time for
change. And that started the U.S. rivers on their paths to recovery. From this moment
9:30 a.m. July the 1st 1999 there was no turning back.
Ironically it’s progress by going backwards. Back to 1836, the year before
the dam was built. First to power a lumber mill and later to provide
electricity, which had continued to do until two years ago. When the US government,
under pressure from environmentalists, refused to re-license the dam and
ordered its removal. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt called it: ‘an act of
restoration, a statement about our capacity to honor and respect God’s creation’.
And the restoration of this river and the fishery is going to provide economic
benefits to the people of the Kennebec Valley and the state of Maine, that we
can only dream of at this point. But the end of all that was as simple as sitting
on a riverbank on a summer day and letting nature take its course for the
first time in 162 years. It’s obvious to most of us that dams
wipeout fish migrations. We’ve known this ever since ancient societies first
learned how to dam rivers. We live in a time unlike any before us. It’s a time
when incredibly damaging barriers are just beginning to be removed from many
major rivers. We are reconnecting thousands of miles of rivers and streams
to the ocean again. For some rivers this is the first time
in over 200 years the fish populations have the chance to grow and expand into
this reopened habitat. We’re at the Patapsco River. Behind me is the Bloede dam or what’s left of it. A few weeks back we breached the dam, a 20 foot section
was exploded out so, we were able to kind of de-water the impoundment behind, a
lot of the water flushed through, bringing a lot of the sediment with it.
Once that was complete the next few weeks were spent just chipping away and the
exposed portions of the rest of the dam. And now to the other bank and the water just
continued to flush a little bit of a head cut migration and a lot of slumping
in the sediments and now we’re ready to do another blast, so pretty exciting day.
They’ve loaded they’re loading actually some explosives right now, to do another
20-foot section of the dam, so they’ll they’ll explode that, they’ll remove the
debris and then they’ll repeat that process a few more times to get the
remainder of the dam out of the river. This is the downstream impediment. The only
downstream impediment from here all the way to the Chesapeake Bay. So this is
will be a huge migratory fish passage area. American Rivers and their team
removed two other dams just upstream of this, so this is just going to open up a
tremendous amount of river. For native fish and anadromous fish as well, to move
through the system and just bring life back to our rivers. Flushing the
sediment through is something that downstream rivers need. They need some of
that sediment at times. To help keep their systems a little more active. So they’ll
be able to start moving up this as soon as the dams out of it. This water is
restored with like revegetation and everything and the sediment settling
down, that’ll take a little bit longer. The bigger challenge for us, is to ensure
this appreciation and advocacy for river health and the people that depend on them
becomes business-as-usual. To do this we need to help expand
awareness of river health and use our voices, our votes and funding to advocate
for the freeing of rivers. And protecting the precious few rivers that remain intact.
That’s one reason why I went to Washington DC, to meet some of these
dedicated people working on this. In 2016 our agency reached the milestone of
replacing or upgraded 1,000 culverts for fish passage and we are planning on
restoring another thousand culverts by 2020. Then I went to meet with Craig Goodwin. He’s the national aquatic ecologist from
the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which is part of the USDA. Why is
world fish migration day important here? Well we’re at the the very point, in
essence, where the tide can’t have an effect upon the river and where, as we
start working our way downstream, we go from freshwater to saltwater. These very
important areas like the Chesapeake Bay. These estuaries where these various
micro environments, some salty, more saline, some less saline, provide a great
opportunity for a lot of different habitats for both fin fish and shellfish
in the area. It’s such a privilege and it’s so inspiring, you know here we’re in
the nation’s capital, surrounded by concrete and houses and this little
stream here now has tens of thousands of river herring, that come all the way up
through the Chesapeake Bay from the high seas of the Atlantic. And they do it
every year whether the water is muddy like today or clear or high or low
and it’s something that we need to share with the public. The pace of work being
done by these federal agencies working in conjunction with environmental
organization has been picking up speed this last decade. More removals of delinquent dams, large
roads stream crossings. That the fish can get into headwaters. Finding ways to
re-establish native fish populations and there aren’t enough left to do it on
their own. In the western US we haven’t taken very
good care of our freshwater fish. In the Colorado almost all of the native fish
of the Lower Colorado are now either gone or endangered. Salmon populations in
the Columbia River in terms of biomass of wild salmon have declined by probably
90%. And so in these rivers in western US where we built a lot of dams the native
fish have not fared very well at all. So in my mind it’s a warning. It’s
especially a warning in other parts of the world where people are very
dependent on fish. Because we’ve seen species extinctions, we’ve seen huge
population declines and if that happens in areas where most of the population is
dependent on fish there could be serious consequences. From a fresh water
biodiversity perspective there’s probably nothing more damaging in these
tropical rivers than dams. And so that, I mean definitely, if I was going to talk
with people who were thinking about dams as green energy or thinking about
building some of these large dams in high biodiversity areas. I think the
first thing I would tell them is that these dams have the potential to cause
the extinction of dozens or maybe even hundreds of unique
species of fish. But we have to remember that the source
of these problems for fish is nearly ubiquitous and it’s a problem that’s
been around since the Industrial revolution. In a world where we tend to measure
success in economic terms, we’ve forgotten about some of our intrinsic
connections with rivers and with fish. We need to get better at realizing that
restored rivers provide a lot of economic value but they also create much richer
ecosystems for all of us to live in. To make healthier more enjoyable lives.
It’s great to see the recognition of these values advocated not only by government
agencies and nonprofit organizations. But also to see popular culture engaging
with the restoration of our ecosystems. I’m a passionate fly fisherman. I really
want my kids and my grandchildren to have a chance to experience the same
things I have a chance to experience today. So for the last decade I’ve been
quite active in a political debate in Finland. Talking about how to conserve
our fisheries. How to make our fish populations healthier. How to make sure
that fish can actually migrate into their spawning grounds. I really wanted
to bring world fish migration day in to Finland and I’ve been teaming up with
mister Pekka Havisto in Finland, who is our previous minister of development, around
parliamental events. Seminars in the Finnish Parliament where we talk about
these things and bring together the leading scientists the leading activists
and some really influential politicians to talk about how to make sure that the
future for our rivers and our fisheries looks better than it does now. And
bringing world fish migration day to Finland and creating the European hub
for world fish migration day on that parliamental seminar was a perfect
fit, because we can go from local to an international platform. And combine
the forces of these two different events into one. And I believe the parliamental seminar,
we arranged, was a big success. We have forgotten about the values of
our rivers. The multiple values of our rivers. We think of them as resources to
be tapped, but we forget that there are many other values that they provide.
From fisheries, to spiritual, to recreational. All of these multiple values are ones
that need to be considered, as we’re thinking about how we develop our rivers.
In a way that maintains important aspects like migration routes for fish.
Protecting and restoring rivers is the most hopeful form of conservation I know.
Because you literally can see a river come back to life. If you do the right
things. If you take out the dam or you restore the flow or you stop putting
pollution into that river. Those rivers will come back and they come back
amazingly fast. And so of all the conservation work I’ve been in, in more
than 30 years of my career, the most hopeful work is river restoration. I think standing in a river that has
flown there for thousands of years. Tens of thousands
of years, almost an eternity, being a part of that moving force. Just roots you deep
down into mother earth. Grounds you and there is something very meditative about
those moments. When all there is is complete silence. You have a raging
roaring river the sound of the river just blends into this total silence.
And I think it’s something very primitive, that comes from thousands
of years ago in human DNA, that we find something really therapeutic in those
moments and in that environment. I am on the edge of the Bosher dam
walkway. It’s part of the fishway structure. We just finished up our event
here, celebrating world fish migration day. I think for our first time it went
pretty well. We, I think, have the kind of the background now and the
skills to make this a bigger event, the next time it comes around and just
getting the word out too. I mean each one of them seem like they walked away
saying: ‘wow I never knew that or that’s really neat’. And that’s exactly the
response that we want to get with something like this. So each one of them
is going to go and talk about it and for the next two years they can help us
build excitement until we have another event here. I think one of the best
things was the fish we were able to capture on the boats and the interaction
the young and old people were able to have with those fish, where the game
representatives were able to hold those fish up, identify them tell them
what they were, a little bit of information about the fish itself and
its life in the James River. And then they were able to touch the fish. I mean
these fish were big. They were very neat and I think it was pretty cool for
everyone to see that and then be able to talk to the folks who know a little bit about them. World fish migration day brings people
to rivers with an excitement for restoring them and those massive
migrations of fish. When I see kids and adults, like me, acting like kids totally
engaged and beaming with aw. I realized there’s a lot of hope than our rivers.
But here we are today, with thousands upon thousands of people, not only
connecting with their rivers and celebrating fish, but also connecting
with one another. It’s through connecting people that we all learn and grow our
knowledge base. It’s the way we can develop and share solutions for fixing
or protecting rivers that are still free-flowing. I’m hopeful that connecting
around rivers can give us common cause. It can deepen our understanding of each
other as well as our connections to the natural world. World fish migration day
helps to connect extraordinary humans that are devoting their lives to making
the world a better place ,one river at a time. And this is what makes me so
incredibly hopeful. I’m excited for the future and I’m proud to be a part of
this movement. If this isn’t something you’ve heard of
or participated in before. I really hope you join us to celebrate the next world
fish migration day on May 16th 2020. Just imagine how we can grow the impact of
this event even larger With funding to support more outreach.
We can connect to more people on even more rivers and way more countries. We can start
engaging people in their communities in a way that could lead to lasting and
life-changing impacts. Please join me in celebrating rivers the fish that swim
through them and the people all around them.

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