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World Rivers Day

The last Sunday of September is World Rivers Day, a chance to celebrate the importance of our planet's waterways. Rivers stretch like networks of veins and arteries across the world's dry continents, delivering life-sustaining water that supports human civilizations and wildlife populations. There are more than 170 rivers in the world that run at least 1,000 km (621 miles) in length, and the longest seven of these stretched end to end would wrap around the globe. The precious freshwater accessible in rivers and lakes accounts for less than 0.3% of all the water on Earth, and humans must share this resource with each other (and other living things) for everything from drinking and growing food, to bathing, sanitation, and other activities of daily life.


Although rivers are vitally important to life on our planet, they also face a troubling onslaught of threats, including the combined impacts of pollution, dams and infrastructure, water overuse, and climate change. Earlier this year, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) compiled a report identifying the world's top ten rivers at risk. The list of threatened waterways includes the Rio Grande in North America, the Mekong and Yangtze in Asia, the Danube in Europe, the Nile in Africa, and the Murray-Darling in Australia. Demands on river water have drained many major rivers, preventing them from even meeting the sea. Rivers also face threats to the fishes and other animals that inhabit them, such as overfishing and invasive species. The cold, clear waters that many fish depend on are also heating up as our climate changes. This can hinder the survival of some species, and alter the livelihood and recreation opportunities for the fishers who wish to catch them, according to a recent report from the National Wildlife Federation.


Solutions to address such big challenges will have to be as wide reaching as the rivers themselves. Many of the world's river basins cross international borders: according to the United Nations, 276 transboundary river basins exist, and cover nearly half (46%) of the planet's land area. The Mekong River is one such transboundary river, which is why FISHBIO is supporting the Mekong Fish Network to improve international cooperation in studying and conserving the river's fishes. But it's also possible to help rivers in small ways closer to home, including making smart choices about water usage, and helping to keep waterways clean. We recently showed our appreciation for some of our favorite local rivers by bagging up trash as part of Coastal Cleanup Day. We hope you'll share the ways you're working to help rivers near you.

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Recent Blog Post

California Cleanup Day  

Saturday, September 21 was a day of many names, which all pointed to a common mission: cleaning up our local waterways. The California Coastal Commission dubbed it " Coastal Cleanup Day," while regional efforts included the "Great Sierra River Cleanup," hosted by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, and "The Fall Clean up of the Tuolumne River Regional Parks" organized by the Tuolumne River Trust. We think the day could best be described as "California Cleanup Day," since many conservation groups and organizations throughout the state seemed to be sponsoring some sort of cleanup.

In fact, FISHBIO faced a tough decision on where to contribute our efforts: three of our favorite California rivers (the Little Chico Creek, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne rivers) had planned cleanup events. So rather than picking just one river, we decided to help clean up all three!  Read more >
IN THE NEWS: Recent stories you might have missed...

Urban fish masculinized by hormone-mimicking chemicals

UC Davis News & Information 

It's a man's world for fish in a San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. Silverside fish collected from an urban beach in Suisun Marsh were more masculinized, but with smaller and less healthy gonads, than were neighboring silversides swimming near a cattle ranch in the marsh, according to a new study led by the University of California, Davis... Read more >  

Big Chinook run doesn't let Columbia dams off the hook, activists say
LA Times
The tiny fish-counting station, with its window onto the Columbia River, was darkened so the migrating salmon would not be spooked. And it was silent - until the shimmering bodies began to flicker by. Then the room erupted with loud clicks, as Janet Dalen's fingers flew across her stumpy keyboard. Tallying the darting specimens, she chanted and chortled, her voice a cross between fish whisperer and aquatic auctioneer... Read more >
Removal of obsolete Idaho dam reopens prime spawning reaches
NOAA Fisheries

Dutch Flat Dam, a 10-foot barrier built nearly a century ago to provide drinking water to Troy, Idaho, was once as forgotten as the steelhead run that it blocked. The dam spanned the West Fork of Little Bear Creek, which ran so dry in summer nobody thought steelhead survived there. So no one thought much about the dam that had silted in long ago. But about a decade ago biologists realized that protected steelhead in fact do survive and even thrive in such streams, hiding out in pools cooled by underground flows... Read more > 

Chronic stress conditions salmon behavior   


Have you ever been stressed and forgot what you were doing? Chronic mild stress may explain why many salmon don't return to our rivers and why 20 per cent of salmon production is lost every year.Chronic mild stressors, such as a bad working environment, marital problems or sleepless nights with small children, are well known to cause learning and memory problems. Researchers at Uni Research AS have shown that the same is true for salmon... Read more >   

Treaty renewal chance to reopen salmon passages

The Spokesman-Review

Salmon runs to the Upper Columbia River and its tributaries went extinct in the 1930s when Grand Coulee Dam was built without fish ladders. Now it's time to investigate salmon passage over the 550-foot-high dam, including the possibility of restoring runs up the 1,200-mile river system and into British Columbia, according to a draft recommendation from federal agencies, Northwest states and 16 Indian tribes... Read more >