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The Netherlands and Germany join forces for the sake of the Rhine (video)

The Netherlands and Germany join forces for the sake of the Rhine (video)

Early in September, the Interreg project ‘De Rijn Verbindt/Der Rhein Verbindet’ (‘The Rhine Connects’) got underway. Ten German and Dutch organisations, including Sportvisserij Nederland, will be joining forces on this project for the next four years, which is aimed at establishing a healthy, green and thriving Rhine.

Photography: Rijkswaterstaat and Laurens Eggen

Before flowing into the sea, the Rhine wends its way through the Netherlands and Germany. That’s why the two countries are joining forces to ensure a better balance between humans and nature in this habitat. And it’s not a moment too soon, because much is changing in the river, and the impact of humans on the river – and on its remarkable fish population – is only increasing.

View the three-minute video about this project here:


The goal of this overarching project is to increase the biodiversity of the Rhine, and to improve its resistance to climate change. The project is being carried out in collaboration with bodies such as Rijkswaterstaat (the Dutch water management authority), Rheinischer Fischereiverband von 1880 (a German angling organisation), the ARK Rewilding Netherlands Foundation and RAVON (a Dutch organisation for the conservation of reptiles, amphibians and freshwater fish).

There are a variety of activities under way, but the most important ones relating to The Rhine Connects are:
  • Restoration of migratory fish (including restocking with shad and sturgeon);
  • A study investigating the possible causes of damage to eel;
  • Clean-up campaigns suitable in conjunction with Vang5;
  • Research into plastic.

Anglers are helping

Sportvisserij Nederland is sharing its expertise and is actively committed to these activities. For example, anglers are working together with Landesfischereiverband Westfalen und Lippe e.V to identify and record the swimming behaviour of fish in the Oude IJssel, a tributary to the Rhine. We are also asking anglers to help to find damaged eels (knakalen) and report them.

Maikel Stegeman (Sportvisserij Nederland) with a silver-stage eel that is to be fitted with a VIE (visible implant elastomer) tag. Researchers hope to discover what is damaging or killing the eels.

Specific results

‘The Rhine Connects’ aims to achieve the following specific results in the next four years:
  • Reduced plastic pollution thanks to clean-up campaigns (amounting to at least 200 bags full of rubbish);
  • Insights into solutions for plastic pollution (analysis of approx. 40,000 pieces of plastic) and fish damage caused by shipping;
  • Stocking the Rhine with +/- 300,000 Twaite shad larvae (Alosa fallax) and +/- 500 juvenile sturgeon (Acipenser sturio);
  • Space for the development of around 15 hectares of riverine forest near Berg en Dal;
  • River wood as a habitat for aquatic organisms at two locations along the Rhine in the Wesel District;
  • Around 1.5 km of ‘living dykes’ with greater biodiversity in the Wesel and Kleve Districts;
  • Improved water management in the cross-border Niederrhein-Rijnstrangen Corridor (approximately 300 ha);
  • A forward-looking strategy for a healthy, green and thriving Rhine.

This project is made possible by a European Interreg subsidy. Find more information about this project at

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