In 2012 our team proudly published the first global edition of our book “From Sea to Source”. This was a work intended to inform, educate and inspire those who wanted to know much more about how to meet the challenges that lie behind restoration of fish migration in rivers around the world. Whether the challenge is simply to increase access to spawning habitats through connectivity improvements for salmon, or to maintain the livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people dependent upon fish and fisheries in the great rivers of Asia, Africa and South America, we hoped our book would help to achieve these goals.

That book was very well received and we were delighted with the good reviews. This inspired us to move on. An important result was the establishment of the World Fish Migration Foundation in 2014 through which we now continue to share experiences and encourage the opening of rivers around the world for wildlife and the people who depend on them. Since the development of the World Fish Migration Foundation, many initiatives have been launched that promote a new vision: Connecting Fish, Rivers and People.

The International Fish Passage Conference was held in The Netherlands in 2015, and World Fish Migration Day has been launched even more successfully around the globe. Together with our partners and collaborators we introduced millions of people from around the world to the urgent need for recognition of the value of migratory fish and healthy rivers. Flourishing populations of migratory fish are a wonderful indicator of environmental quality.

Ultimately our ambition is to contribute in a positive way to making a better world and a positive difference for migratory fish, nature and humans on local and global levels by inspiring new initiatives for and with people all around the world. With the release of the 2018 ‘From Sea to Source 2.0’ we show how rivers are a critical natural resource that sustain us all and support livelihoods, health and wellbeing. Approximately 40% of all fish species in the world reside in freshwater ecosystems, contributing economic and ecological benefits and value.

Not only are there at least a quarter of a billion people who depend on freshwater fish as their primary food source, but the related fishing industry is a vital economic resource, worth $90 billion annually in the USA alone. There is also a cultural aspect to fish populations and fisheries which has often been overlooked. People in many regions are rightly proud of their fishery traditions and they have a clear stake in restoring and protecting fish and their natural habitats.

Apart from the 15,000 freshwater fish species known to migrate in some way during their life cycle, there are over 1,100 iconic long-distance migratory fish that depend on free-flowing rivers to thrive. Among these are the great salmon runs of Alaska, the critically endangered sturgeon of Asia, the predatory tigerfish of Africa, the largest freshwater catfish of the Mekong, the highly migratory dorado in the Amazon and the wonderful ayu of Japan. Working together with international fish experts we have included details in this book on some of these key iconic migratory fish species and other less well-known fish from around the world in the hopes that this can be used to draw much-needed attention to these species and the pressures they face.

It is crucial that migratory fish can fulfil their entire lifecycle without the danger, delays and disturbance caused by migration barriers. For most species a barrier-free river system is sufficient, but many other salmonids, eels and lampreys also need free migration out into estuaries and oceans to fulfil their entire lifecycle. As you will see, the threats to these habitats are well documented.

At least half of all the flow in the rivers of the world is artificially manipulated or fragmented, and our resource of truly wild free flowing rivers is now more threatened than ever. Only 64 of the 177 rivers, longer than 1,000 km, are free-flowing and yet there are proposals for more than 3,500 new large dams in Asia, Africa and South America. In recent decades the upward trend of fragmentation,industrialisation, overfishing, climate change, water quality deterioration, and other threats have motivated people around the world to seek to improve the situation for migratory fish.

River managers, NGO’s, practitioners, researchers, authorities and other key groups are deeply concerned and starting to take action to address what is estimated to be a 40% decline in global migratory fish populations, part of an on-going negative trend seen over the last 40 years. An international fish migration community is growing, and has recognised the potential for a new era of opportunity to address pressures on migratory fish around the world. By reading this book, you should probably join this community too!

We have learned to recognize the greater value of migrating fish and free-flowing rivers, and now investment to safeguard fish migration is becoming a growth sector. We are starting to see the first positive trends in fish populations in some parts of the world where action has been taken. In this book we explain some of the inspiring work around the globe that people are doing to improve the status of migratory fish. This ranges from small local awareness campaigns by enthusiastic communities, to large multi-million euro restoration projects.