Trout in the service of the state

By Christian BlockMisch Pautsch Switch to German for original article

Every year, the Water Management Authority releases tens of thousands of fish into Luxembourg's rivers and streams. A water quality that would allow the stocks to recover naturally will be many years away – if it can be achieved at all.

The moment when the brown trout are released in the Attert river, they have already travelled around the country a bit. This morning, they set off from Lintgen on a journey of around 20 kilometres to the west of the country. By car, as it is common in Luxembourg.

With a landing net, a man scoops a load of juvenile fish out of the container mounted on the bed of the pickup truck and pours them into a tall, white plastic bucket. The fish, about ten centimetres long, hatched last spring. In administrative and technical jargon, they are therefore called "truitelles fario un été" because they are one summer old when they are released in autumn.

Two men lift the filled tub from one side each by the handles and carry it towards the shore. Their steps sink into the wet ground of the leaf-covered bank. Branches crack under their boots. When they reach the water, they repeat the ritual they just performed. The landing net heaves the lively swarm of trout out of the bucket in portions and releases it into the Attert. When the bucket is empty, they start all over again. Within two days, the four-man team will release around 20,000 fish between Useldange and the Belgian border.

For the staff of the Department of Biology and Fisheries of the Water Management Authority, this work is routine. The main task of the state fish farm located in Lintgen is to restock the fish stocks in public and leased waters (see Infobox). In 1954, the state took over the facility in Lintgen, where only trout are farmed. The water, which comes from their own sources, is a constant nine degrees Celsius and has the appropriate pH value. "We have ideal conditions for breeding trout", explains Laurent Charnaut. Since 2016, he has coordinated the areas of fish farming and fishing permits at the Water Management Authority. In the 44 ponds and basins, the administration produces around 500,000 fish eggs a year. Almost 400,000 trout fry and 50,000 young, solitary trout are released each year. Other species such as grayling, nase, aland, tench, rudd or bream are procured from external suppliers via tenders.

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