Session A3: Fish Habitat Restoration in the LIFE - Project Grote Nete

Abstract: In 2005 the province of Antwerpen started a partnership with the NGO Natuurpunt in the context of the LIFE – project Grote Nete. The province department of Integrated Water management, responsible for managing the typical lowland streams in the Grote Nete catchment, is an important partner in restoring lowland river systems. This river system is home to more than 15% of the Flemish population of brook lamprey (Lampetra planeri) and spined loach (Cobitis taenia), fish species in decline at European level. An important goal of the project was the re-naturalisation of a manmade lowland stream, the Kleine Hoofdgracht. The fish monitoring before realization indicated already a good presence of brook lamprey and some rheophilic species as the chub (Squalius cephalus) and the common dace (Leuciscus leuciscus). Also Burbot (Lota lota) is present thanks to a re-introduction project. The province of Antwerpen had two objectives in the restoration project. The first objective was creating natural floodplains by removing unnatural dikes along a stretch of almost 700 m. The second objective was habitat restoration for Annex II fish species. Brook lamprey and spined loach need, at least for a part of their life cycle, shallow water. We created 7 zones with shallow water and small variations in topography. We also constructed meandering side channels for some rheophilic species. The following years we continue the restoration in this catchment thanks to new LIFE-projects: LIFE Grote Netewoud and LIFE Most-Keiheuvel. Objectives are the restoration of the typical lowland streams along 1 km and fish migration restoration. The last objective is a true challenge. Discharge can be very low and some typical fish species ( brook lamprey, spined loach) can take only small steps. The T0 monitoring in the LIFE-project Most-Keiheuvel already indicated a big weir is a barrier for a rheophilic species as the common dace.
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