An open door for fish

At the end of the 19th century, salmon and European river lampreys were still spawning in the Lippe. Excavations in the bed of the Lippe created new zones of still water, generating additional habitats for perch, bream, rudd, eels, and roach. The spectrum of fish species in the Lippe has however fallen overall, as a result of the worsening water quality in the 20th century. The comprehensive investigations of animal and plant stocks starting in 1992 found that valuable and typical watermeadow and river elements could only be found in small residual stocks. If the situation had persisted, the situation threatened to deteriorate further.

In future the Lippe will be the central east-west axis for the biotope network in North Rhine-Westphalia, and will thus take on a decisive role in the fish migration programme of the State of NRW. On the basis of the Fish Water Directive and various European regulations, bodies of water are identified as requiring protection or improvement. The measures initiated, not least of which is the Lippe watermeadow programme, have already resulted in a significant improvement of the situation. Over recent years, it has again been possible to verify the presence of over 30 fish species in the Lippe system, including the burbot (which is very rare in NRW), the nase, and the spined loach. The dominant species include the brown trout, grayling and European bullhead.

Freedom of movement for fish and invertebrates is important for the increase of the fish population, and above all the colonisation of further renaturalised bodies of water. A lot has already been achieved here at the nine weir installations on the Lippe. One weir has been removed completely, and fish ladders have been built at four weirs. Measures to ensure freedom of movement are already being implemented at the remaining four weirs, or are at least in the planning phase.