The project “LIFE 11 NAT/11/188” is a part of the LIFE program. The project, headed by Lombardy Region, concerns "Restoring connectivity in the Po river basin, opening migratory route for Acipenser Naccarii and 10 fish species included in Annex II".
The project partners are the Emilia Romagna region, the Interregional Agency for the Po river, the Po Basin Authority, Parco Lombardo del Ticino, the provinces of Piacenza and Rovigo, eventually the Company Graia.
Enel Green Power SpA, authority and operator of the Isola Serafini dam, is also the Life project co-financier and in particular, it helps the de-fragmentation work of the barrier around Isola Serafini.
The supporters are the Canton Ticino, the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea, the regions of Piedmont and Veneto, DG Environment, Energy and Sustainable Development and the Italian Federation of Sport Fishing and Underwater Activities (FIPSAS).
The first aim of the project is restoring the Po River continuity. In fact, the Isola Serafini dam have stopped for decades the natural movement of the native fish in the middle-last stretch of the river. Po is the longest river in Italy, with the largest number of natural feeder (at least 140, including rivers of great importance as Ticino, Adda, Oglio, Mincio). Besides it has a value in fish biodiversity that is among the highest recordable for a natural watercourse not only in Italy, but also in Europe (at least 48 native fish species and the presence of 33 SCI and SPA directly related to river environment). In this context, the Po de-fragmentation is a key activity for wildlife conservation, not just for those species which live in the Po River but also for those settled in the dense hydrographic network linked to the river. Among these, we can recognize more than 15 endemic and sub-endemic Italian species as well as 15 species of Community interest.
Therefore, the priority activity is the planning, creation and launch of a fish ladder at the hydroelectric plant of Isola Serafini (in the municipality of Monticelli d’Ongina (Pc)). This fish ladder is the largest ever built in our country, which will allow restoring the migration routes of fish for hundreds of kilometers from the Adriatic Sea to Lake Lugano, in synergy with works of similar function implemented in recent years in the Lombardy Region.
The opening of this ecological corridor has positive effects, in particular for some migratory species endangered and protected by the EU such as sturgeon Cobice, eel, shad, mullet, who need to complete their life cycle passing from soft water to salted ones and vice versa.
In support of the local population of Sturgeon Cobice the basin of the Po River contribute, directly, actions on the species, which will encourage the population growth and the long-term preservation.
Moreover, measures for the control of invasive species has been put in place. The efficacy of the project has been monitored over the entire area of interest in a widespread manner, using different and advanced techniques.
It has been implemented a network of information and public awareness, through infrastructure dedicated to teaching and spreading environmental respect especially near the passage for fish expected in Serafini island.
Expected results of the project:
- Construction and commissioning of a fish ladder from the River Po to Isola Serafini (PC);
- Construction and operation of a control system of the fish in transit and capture the exotic invasive species on the same passage;
- Restocking and increase of the population of sturgeon (Acipenser Naccarii) by the annual production of material for restocking starting from breeding stock and other species of cyprinids reofili (roach, savetta, Danube roach and barbel common), through capture of wild broodstock, artificial breeding and release, incubating eggs and larvae weaning .
- Publication and disclosure of an Action Plan for the restoration of connectivity across the Po River, from the confluence of the Ticino to the delta;
- Publication and disclosure of an Action Plan for the restoration of a buffer zone functional in the stretch of the Po River delta in the point of confluence of the Ticino;
- Formation and activation of a Coordination Committee, comprising all the subjects of government and inter-regional, which will continue beyond the conclusion of the project, for an experience of "Governance" in the management and planning about fisheries and conservation of ichthyofauna.
- Sharing a document coordination of strategies and actions for the management of the “Rete Natura 2000” on the Po and for the coordination of policies and instruments of management and conservation of the “Rete Natura 2000” sites and their resources, including wide area of the project;
- Construction of educational routes for the accessibility of monitoring rooms;
- Publishing a dedicated website to the project and the passage for fish of Isola Serafini;
- Other educational and informative products.
The project began on December 3, 2012 and will end June 30, 2018.
The total budget of the project amounts to € 7,088,476 of which € 3,496,809 charged to the Community co- financing of € 3,091,667 between the partners (€ 394.667a load of the Lombardy Region), € 500,000 co-financing by Enel Green Power.