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Trilateral Swimway Conference 2024

And 32nd Symposium Waddenacademie

Applying scientific evidence to manage human impacts on fish life cycles

17-19 April 2024

Groningen - The Netherlands

Joint excursion programme on 17 April with the Free Flowing Rivers conference (15-17 April 2024)

Within the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation (TWSC), the second Swimway 2024 conference will be held from 17 -19 April 2024 in Groningen, the Netherlands. For the Waddenacademie this will be the 32nd Waddenacademie Symposium.

Organisers are the trilateral Wadden Sea Expert Group Swimway and Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (CWSS), Waddenacademie, Waddenvereniging, University of Groningen, Wageningen Marine Research, van Hall Larenstein University, Danish National Park Wadden Sea and Danish Ministry of Environment.

Funded by TWSC/CWSS, Waddenacademie, and Waddenfonds (projects Waddentools and Ruim Baan voor vissen).


The Wadden Sea is the largest tidal flats system in the world, where nature is allowed to develop largely undisturbed. The UNESCO World Heritage property extends along the coasts of Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. In the ONE Wadden Sea ecosystem more than 100 marine and anadromous fish species find rich food supply,  important habitats and other preconditions to completing their diverse life cycles. Yet, populations of many fish species in the Wadden Sea have declined in recent decades. Swimway Wadden Sea is an overarching approach for a wide variety of initiatives aiming at achieving trilateral fish targets. These have been formulated with the aim to maintain or improve healthy fish populations in the Wadden Sea. (Wadden Sea Plan).

The first trilateral Swimway conference on “Understanding connectivity within the life cycles of coastal fish” was held in September 2019 in Hamburg, Germany.

In the meantime, existing monitoring data has been extensively analysed, and much relevant and excellent research on the topic has been finalized, whose results have the potential to facilitate effective and efficient conservation of fish life cycles in the Wadden Sea and beyond. The crucial task, however, is to translate this scientific knowledge into tangible management action, leading to measurable improvement for fish. Important steps have been initiated e. g. the fish migration river in the Netherlands. Yet the diversity of life styles, life history stages, and, thus, of the requirements of fish to their environment, remains a major challenge to implement the Trilateral Fish Targets for the Wadden Sea.


Conference 2024

The 2024 Swimway conference will take a two-tiered approach: the outcomes of the latest research on fish life cycles will be balanced with contributions on the practical implementation of scientific findings to dedicated and effective conservation efforts.

Learning from both successful and unsuccessful current management measures will advance our understanding of how management can be adjusted to mitigate or eliminate life cycle bottlenecks. At the same time, the advancement in research and practical applications in management are shedding light on knowledge gaps still impeding conservation of fish life cycles. Thus, it seems logical that, like the first Swimway conference held in 2019 in Hamburg, Germany, the second Swimway conference will further explore:

  • Drivers of fish populations utilizing coastal marine environments during their ontogeny;
  • Potential bottlenecks throughout the life cycle and, eventually;
  • Effectivity and efficiency of current and foreseen management measures;
  • Observed and projected impacts on estuarine fish populations through large-scale anthropogenic impacts (e. g., with regard to food, mobility, energy, fisheries) and environmental change (e. g. continuous and sudden temperature change, underwater noise, chemical pollution, eutrophication).

Register now

The main programme comes with some exciting social events, such as five excursions, a conference dinner and a poster session. The full programme is launched in December. Please note that places for excursions are limited, so make sure to register soon.

Go to the Registration page to register for the Swimway Conference 2024.

Call for abstracts

Become an active contributor to the conference and submit an abstract. The call for abstracts is open until October 30, 2023.

Free Flow 2024

As a special benefit, the Swimway conference 2024 will take place in close association with the free-flowing-rivers conference Free Flow 2024 to be held earlier the same week (15 - 17 April 2024) also in Groningen. We strongly encourage you to register for both conferences! * This will facilitate the exchange between the two communities, expand the network and provide the opportunity to learn from each other. Both conferences will organize a combined excursion programme on the 17th of April 2024. Attendees of both conferences are invited to end or start their conference in Groningen with an exciting excursion.

*Their topical relatedness notwithstanding, the two conferences are organized separately, so please register separately for each one. For details and registration at the free-flowing rivers conference, please visit the free flowing rivers conference website.