A picture of a fish, that is.
May 24 is World Fish Migration Day, a global initiative to raise awareness about the necessity of maintaining open rivers that migratory fish can move through freely. Despite being a global campaign, you can participate right from your own backyard or neighborhood.
Fish need water: that’s a given. But habitat is more than water alone. Stream-dwelling fishes need connected habitats. Waters fragmented by large dams or small, poorly placed road culverts keep fish from accessing habitat. Fish need certain waters at particular times of the year, times of day, or times of their lives, so as to live out their lives as accustomed by nature. Dams, culverts, weirs, sluices and other infrastructure constructed for water management or drainage threaten these important fish in a time of collapsing or declining fish stock.
Removing barriers allows kayaker to run the rivers. Anglers enjoy the fish swimming freely. There’s more wildlife to see from high quality habitat. They all increase the quality of life.Plus, there’s an economic benefit to removing barriers to fish passage. Since the program launched in 1999, the National Fish Passage Program has removed 1,522 fish passage barriers; reopened 7,486 rive miles and benefited over 90 species of fish. With a 3:1 ratio of non-federal match to federal NFPP dollars, it has supported 219,195 jobs. Based on that, NFPP has generated approximately $11 billion in economic value to local communities from its projects (based on USFWS economic study in 2010).
Hence the awareness that needs raising for the general public—and this year for World Fish Migration Day, there’s a fun way to get involved. In the lead-up to May 24, the Service and its partners in this campaign are asking you to take a picture of yourself (or a “selfie” as the kids call it these days) near a body of water and holding a print-out of a fish that needs help traversing its habitat due to barriers.
The idea is, by the time May 24 rolls around, we’ll be able to chart the passage of these fish through the northeast with all the great pictures from their supportive fans!
The fish pictures are illustrated by the talented Laury Zicari, out of our Orono, Maine field office. There are plenty of fish to choose from, including alewife, Atlantic salmon and lake sturgeon. It’s a quick and fun way for your friends, family or class to get involved with conserving nature throughout the next month!
For more information and the downloadable fish pictures, see the World Fish Migration Day’s website here.