|The impact of intermediate-head navigation locks on downstream fish passage|Vergeynst, J.; Pauwels, I.; Baeyens, R.; Coeck, J.; Nopens, I.; De Mulder, T.; Mouton, A. (2019). The impact of intermediate-head navigation locks on downstream fish passage. River Res. Applic. 35(3): 224-235. https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/rra.3403
Anguilla anguilla (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]; Salmo salar Linnaeus, 1758 [WoRMS]
Atlantic salmon; downstream fish migration; European eel; fish-friendliness; navigation locks
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Navigation in inland waterways is increasingly important worldwide and so is inherently the construction and use of navigation locks. However, the impact of navigation locks on downstream migrating fish is rarely documented. In Belgium, the Albert Canal connecting the Meuse River to the Scheldt Estuary may offer migration opportunities for European eel (Anguilla anguilla) and Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), two critically endangered species. During their downstream migration phase (respectively silver eels and salmon smolts), both species have to pass five intermediate-head navigation locks before reaching the estuary. Previous research showed that silver eel escapement is largely unsuccessful and that eels are delayed extensively at the navigation lock complexes. To get a better understanding of the mechanisms behind these failures and delays, we tagged and released 62 silver eels and 44 salmon smolts in the vicinity of one navigation lock complex of the canal. This paper reports the mechanisms behind the previously perceived delay, the route choices to pass the complex, and the risks involved. Of the 65% tagged eels and 73% tagged smolts that succeeded to pass the complex, respectively, 20% and 41% needed more than one trial to pass the complex. Moreover, 52% of all trials were via intakes of the lock filling system, at least four smolts (17%) died after intake passing, and about 30% of both intake-passing smolts and eels stopped migrating after passage. Therefore, intermediate-head navigation locks are a potential threat to downstream migrating fish, which requires more research to fully investigate its impact.