Connecting fish, rivers and people

About WFMD

World Fish Migration Day 2016 (WFMD) is a one day global initiative, with local events worldwide, to create awareness on the importance of open rivers and migratory fish. It is a World Fish Migration Platform activity and is held to improve the publics’ understanding of the importance of open rivers and migratory fish and their needs.

What is the problem?
Migratory fish species support food supply and livelihoods for millions of people, but are now more than ever under great threat. The main causes of this are man-made obstacles. Dams, weirs and sluices built for water management, hydropower, irrigation and land drainage disrupt the natural flow of rivers and can prevent fish migration. Many fish need to migrate to reproduce, feed and complete their life cycles. Migratory species make up a crucial link in the food chain and play an important ecological role in productive river systems. Giant catfish, sturgeon, eel and salmon are just some of the famous migratory species under human pressure.

In an attempt to bring global attention to these facts about fish migration as well as the needs and importance of connected natural river networks, the World Fish Migration Day was initiated by a partnership of 6 organizations including World Fish Migration Foundation (NL), WWF, the Netherlands (NL), The Nature Conservancy (USA), IUCN SSC / WI Freshwater Fish Specialist Group (based in the UK), LINKit consult (NL) and Waterschap AVG (NL). In addition to this partnership, the WFMD is also sponsored and supported by many non-profit organizations and private companies, who strive toward the same goals of creating awareness. All of our Sponsors can be found here




What is World Fish Migration Day?

The concept of WFMD is that organizations from around the world volunteer to organize their own event around the common theme of: CONNECTING FISH, RIVERS AND PEOPLE. By working together, under one worldwide umbrella, we can improve our impact on raising awareness/ sharing ideas/ securing commitments/ building communities. In doing so, we can ultimately create a greater driving force, which will allow for easier management/ conservation/ rehabilitation of migratory fish stocks.

 See below some of the comments from influential persons in the fish migration field.

"World Fish Migration Day is a terrific way to draw attention, not only to the significant challenges that fish face in reaching their habitats, but also to the many successes we've had in restoring their journeys", said by Giulio Boccaletti, the Managing Director of Global Freshwater for The Nature Conservancy. Mr Boccaletti went on to say that "The day and its events throughout the world also point to the many ways that the needs of people and communities are tied to the success of migrating fish. By safeguarding the life cycles of fish, we're also empowering people and their communities."

‘’Migratory fish like salmon, sturgeon, giant catfish, as well as millions of people worldwide, depend on ecologically important rivers such as the Danube, Yangtze and Mekong. Unfortunately these essential lifelines are severely under threat from dams, over-fishing and pollution. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if WFMD became as popular as EarthHour; ushering in a wave of worldwide events focussing attention on the importance of free-flowing rivers.’’ Johan van de Gronden, CEO WWF Netherlands - World Wide Fund for Nature

“Most heart attacks are the result of a blockage of arteries; blocking or disrupting river flows have the same effect on the planet as they do in the human body, unless we are becoming much more proactive in addressing the alarming incremental pace of river flow disruption, we are likely to give the planet a heart attack with seriously crippling and devastating consequences to all life on earth!” Dr. Richard Sneider, Global Chair, IUCN FFSG

First WFMD held on May 2014
The 24th of May 2014 marked the first ever World Fish Migration Day (WFMD) - a worldwide celebration of healthy rivers and free-running fish with over 270 events. On this day, well over a 1000 different organisations contributed to WFMD2014, through support and/or participation, in over 50 countries worldwide.
The first celebrations started in New Zealand, with the official opening in Christchurch and finished off at an event in Hawaii. There was an amazing excitement on the day with a certain buzz on Facebook and Twitter. The WFMD2014 Facebook page had reached over 36 000 people on the day through posts, page likes and mentions. Photos from many of the events were posted and can now be found on the WFMD2014 Facebook page. For more feedback visit:
Some of the outcomes of WFMD2014 include:
  • Creation of goodwill with town officials in the USA
  • Creation of more sympathy for the sturgeons/migratory fish cause in Romania
  • Creation of a space to continue discussions and to take some measures about the fish migration problems in Bolivia to policy makers and general public
  • Development of a new tool, which includes the use of fish behaviour to contribute to the management of rivers in South Africa
  • Across the globe many of the events educated, generated great interest and increased understanding of the challenges we face
  •  In an Indian workshop, they identified issues for follow up with line departments for providing fish migration paths in the traditional tanks
  •  After the success of the WFMD2014, an organisation in Brazil will now be opening up a permanent education centre for school children
These outcomes are testament to the great success WFMD2014. We want to however build on this success for our next WFMD, to be held on 21 May 2016, and hope to double the amount of events and participation. 


Details to participate in WFMD2016
Events will be organized locally, under the umbrella of WFMD, to create awareness about open rivers and free fish migration routes. Our aim is to have more than 500 events around the world on WFMD; starting in New Zealand, following the sun and ending as the sun sets on Hawaii. The WFMD will bring global attention for the need for open rivers and free routes for fish migration. It will deliver international press coverage and new fish migration awareness initiatives will be developed.
Each participating organization will organize their own event and arrange their own outreach communication and publicity campaign on a regional and national level. The WFMD2016 partnership will include each event on the official WFMD website and take care of the central coordination, international publicity and relevant updates.
When deciding on an event, we encourage organisers to be creative with their events. Here are some popular event types
  • field excursions (river visits, kayak, fishway and boat trips);
  • fish migration festivals;  
  • presentations, seminars and conferences;
  • events at zoos, museums and aquaria;
  • Fish Passage visitor centres opening their doors;
  • official openings of fishways and dam removals, including the first ever dam removal project in Japan. 
For more inspiration visit these two links: link 1 and link 2  and see below examples from WFMD2014:
  • Excursions for citizens to rivers where dams have been removed, where fishways have been built; including coloring drawings for children (Spain, USA, Japan)
  • Releasing Pacific Lamprey by the Yakama Indian Tribe (USA)
  • Kayak and boat tours on a community river, to bring their citizen closer to their home river, (USA, Brazil)
  • Fish Passage Centers and Nature Musea opening this day, (we are trying to have all Fish Passage Centers all over the world),
  • Fishways’ inaugurations (Australia)
  • Fishways tour on the Kruger National Park (South Africa)
  • Open day at the university campus (Chile)
  • Minister of Agricultrure launched the WFMD on tv which was followed by a Street march and a press conference by governmental officials. 
The partners of the WFMD
  • WWF, the Netherlands (NL)
  • The Nature Conservancy (USA)
  • IUCN SSC / WI Freshwater Fish Specialist Group (based in the UK)
  • Wanningen Water Consult (NL)
  • LINKit consult (NL)
  • Waterschap AVG (NL)

The project is supported by many organizations, which can be found here.