Hydropower plants are one of the main causes for the decline of
numerous fish species in the Mediterranean region. This is the result of a new study commissioned by
nature conservation organisations EuroNatur and Riverwatch, together with Wetlands International
Europe, GEOTA and WWF Adria. In total, 251 endangered freshwater fish species along with their stock
situation in rivers in the Mediterranean basin were recorded. The impact of existing and planned
hydropower plants on these populations was also evaluated. It is the most comprehensive survey of its
kind in Europe to date.

The Mediterranean region is a biodiversity hotspot, but rivers and wetlands are suffering particularly
from the current hydropower boom. More than 6,300 new hydropower plants are planned, 5,269 are
already in operation and 202 are currently under construction. If all the projected plants were to be built,
179 fish species would be driven further towards extinction; another seven species would certainly be
put beyond rescue and are likely to become globally extinct. The biggest threat comes from small
hydropower plants. 163 fish species alone are threatened with extinction by existing and planned
hydropower plants with a capacity of under 10 megawatts.

“Hydropower plants are one of the main causes for the increasingly long Red Lists of fishes", stresses Dr
Jörg Freyhof, author of the study and renowned fish expert. “From a species conservation perspective, it
is imperative that further expansion of hydropower, particularly of small hydropower, is stopped. Instead,
remaining free-flowing rivers must be protected and already obstructed ones should be restored to their
natural state. This applies not only to the Mediterranean region, but to watercourses throughout Europe."

“If the expansion of hydropower is not stopped, the EU can forget about its biodiversity targets in the Green
Deal. It makes no sense for the Biodiversity Strategy to stipulate the restoration of 25,000 river kilometres
if, at the same time, thousands of kilometres are to be dammed and diverted as a result of hydropower
development”, says Ulrich Eichelmann, CEO of Riverwatch.

“Our key demands are clear: no further financial support for hydropower, and, in particular, a halt to
subsidies for small hydropower plants. This study is further evidence of the destructive potential of
hydropower - a form of energy production that has been wrongly labelled as green for too long”, says
Gabriel Schwaderer, Executive Director of EuroNatur Foundation.

Background information

• This is a joint press release by Riverwatch and EuroNatur
• The study: 251 already endangered freshwater fish species in the Mediterranean Basin are
subject of this study. The Iberian Peninsula, France, Italy, parts of the Balkans, the Middle East,
Egypt and the countries of the Maghreb were all geographically surveyed. Find the complete
study at https://balkanrivers.net/Threatened_Fish_MedBasin.... (study in print quality
available upon request)
• The campaign "Save the blue heart of Europe" aims to protect the most valuable rivers of the
Balkan Peninsula from a tsunami of around 3,000 dam projects. The campaign is coordinated by
the NGOs Riverwatch and EuroNatur and is carried out together with local partner organisations.


• Ulrich Eichelmann, Riverwatch, ulrich.eichelmann@riverwatch.eu