Fisheries conference 2023

On 21 and 22 November, the annual fisheries conference, organized by the Federal Agency for Water Management's Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Fisheries Management in Scharfling, was once again held at the Schlosshotel Mondsee event center in the usual friendly yet professional atmosphere.

The conference was opened by Gisela Ofenböck from the National and International Water Management Department, which is responsible for the Federal Agency. She emphasized the importance of the institute in Scharfling for the Water Management Section of the Ministry of Agriculture. As usual, the first day began with an overview of the Institute's extensive activities. For the first time, the new head of the institute, Daniela Achleitner, reported on innovations and current projects in all departments.

In terms of content, Tuesday was dedicated to the topic of aquaculture, as has become a tradition.

Elisabeth Licek (formerly of the University of Veterinary Medicine) introduced the conference participants to the newly published "Farmed Fish Manual", which summarizes the minimum requirements for keeping farmed fish in Austria on the basis of the Animal Welfare Act and the 1st Animal Husbandry Ordinance as an instrument for self-evaluation and official inspection with regard to animal welfare.

Reinhard Reiter from the Bavarian State Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Tourism provided a look beyond the horizon and presented the Bavarian Pond Construction Recommendations, now in its 5th edition, which summarizes both ecological and economic principles of proper pond management with practical explanations for pond keepers and authorities.

Herwig Stibor from Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich demonstrated the decisive effect of dissolved nitrogen and in particular its relationship to available phosphorus on whitefish - probably not only in Bavarian lakes. He impressively illustrated this cascade based on stoichiometry and recalled the need for a profound understanding of complex ecosystems - which is often simply lacking.

Elisabeth Peham reported on scientific analyses carried out by the Waldviertel Ecological Station on the effluent water from recirculation systems, highlighting the difficulties of data collection on the one hand and the importance of such analyses on the other.

The aquaculture day was rounded off by Leo Kirchmaier and Melanie Haslauer before the joint dinner. They outlined the challenges and opportunities facing the individual aquaculture and fisheries sectors from the perspective of the umbrella organization Aquaculture.

Water ecology and the current topics in this field with regard to the implementation of the Water Framework Directive and new European legislative initiatives formed a central theme on the second day of the symposium.

Paul Reichel from the law firm Niederhuber und Partner Rechtsanwälte gave a detailed overview of Austrian water law and the importance of ecology, which is ascribed a significant role in the various sections of the Water Framework Directive. He also discussed the Nature Restoration Law and the EU's Red III Regulation. However, he was only able to partially resolve the resulting contradictions and future challenges in this regard.

Michael Jung from technical office Zauner followed on seamlessly from the explanations of the deterioration ban and impressively demonstrated to the conference participants the effects of passenger shipping on the fish community of the Danube - a long known preassure, but one that was particularly evident during the corona pandemic and the associated cessation of passenger shipping.

The presentation by Christoph Hauer from the Christian-Doppler Laboratory in Vienna also highlighted the importance of a holistic view of the watercourse ecosystem. He reported on current research work in the field of sediment continuity both in the flowing wave and at dams in the mountains.

Maxim Teichert, head of the aquatic ecology department at the Federal Agency for Water Management, presented the results of his research at the institute in Starnberg. There he dealt intensively with fish stocking and its critical examination as well as the solutions developed from the Bavarian species aid programs.

Piet Spaak from EAWAG presented alarming findings that will increasingly have to be faced in Austria's Danube catchment area in the future, particularly in the local Alpine lakes. In his presentation, he explained how quickly and profoundly the invasive quagga mussel is able to change an ecosystem, not only using Lake Constance as an example, but also the great lakes in America in particular. Since this summer, it has been proven that the mussel species can now also be found in several lakes in the Salzkammergut.

Helene Mühlmann from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Regions and Water Management ended the conference with a presentation of the LIFE IP IRIS project so as not to have to leave Mondsee completely disheartened. She pointed out the necessity of getting all stakeholders in the field of water management around the table in order to achieve sustainable solutions for an ecologization of flood protection. Efforts in this regard are now bearing fruit in the LIFE project.

The closing words by Daniela Achleitner summarized the conference and the insights into current topics once again and encouraged reflection. Overall, the conference once again managed to bridge the gap between aquaculture and aquatic ecology. The well-chosen program and the high level of interest in fish as a foodstuff and its habitat was underlined by the high number of participants - almost 120 visitors.