A salmon has been caught in Switzerland for the first time in 50 years after a swim of perhaps 600 miles, raising hopes the fish may soon find its way back to the landlocked country in greater numbers, officials said today.
Angler Thomas Wanner snagged the Atlantic salmon on Sunday, according to Switzerland’s environment ministry.
The 36ins fish female was photographed, certified and then released back into the Birs, a tributary of the river Rhine that flows through the city.
In the 1930s an average of 120 salmon were caught in Basle, but the fish has not been seen since 1958.
Erich Staub, an official with the environment ministry, said the lucky catch was probably the result of efforts to encourage salmon to return to Basle by releasing 50,000 eggs a year into its rivers.
Judging from the salmon’s size it likely made it all the way down the Rhine into the open sea before returning upstream to spawn, Staub said.
The distance from Basle to the North Sea is roughly 620 miles. The Rhine flows through Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands before reaching the North Sea, although tributaries reach into other countries, as well.
Countries along the Rhine have been working for years to improve the river’s water quality, as well as build “steps” that allow the fish to surmount obstacles such as dams and hydroelectric stations.