The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Aargau pulls the emergency brake against the spread of the goby into the Aare

In the fight against the spread of the invasive Black Sea goby from the Rhine into the Aare and further into the Limmat and Reuss, the canton of Aargau has pulled the emergency brake. The Klingnau AG power plant has to take the fish ladder out of operation. The black sea goby threatens the population of native fish species.

If the Black Sea goby spreads in the Aare, there is a risk "that there will be incalculable ecological consequences for the entire species community in the Aare and later also in the connected waters", according to the decree published on Monday by the cantonal Department of Construction, Transport and Environment (BVU).

Gobies could overcome fish ladders, locks and power plant bypasses on their own and thus spread upstream. This opens the way further up the Rhine into the Aare and consequently also into the Limmat and Reuss as well as into the connected lakes and tributaries.

The Klingnau power plant, a partner plant of the Axpo energy group and AEW Energie AG, must comprehensively renovate the fish ladder facilities. Construction is scheduled to start in 2026 at the earliest.

This work is related to the renewal of the concession for the use of hydropower in the River Aare. The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) requires the new facilities to be equipped with a migration barrier against gobies.

Predatory behavior

According to the authorities, several goby species have already been recorded in the Rhine system. Since their first appearance in Switzerland, Black Sea gobies have spread upstream in the Rhine and into the larger tributaries. In the Rhine near Basel, they are therefore more common than any other fish species.

The invasive gobies put the original fish species under severe pressure due to their predatory behavior, by eating the eggs of other fish species and by competing with native species for food and spawning grounds.

©Keystone/SDA

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