Fischfang am Rhein (LFS00689)

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Fishing at the Rhine River traditional style.


ZT: Die germanischen Nachfahren fischen im gleichen Rhein... / Fischer spannen ein Netz. / ZT: Die Fischerei ist ein uraltes Gewerbe. / Netz wird im Fluss versenkt. ZT: Auf dem Altrhein wird "gedaubelt". / Netz wird hochgezogen, ein einzelner Fisch zappelt im Netz, Netz wird mehrmals hochgezogen, meistens ist es leer. TC: 10:06:43 ZT: Bei niederem Wasserstand wird mit dem Langgarn gefischt. / Fischer staken im Boot auf einem Nebenarm des Rheins, werfen langes Netz rings um den See aus. Die Fischer stellen sich ins knietiefe Wasser und ziehen das Netz zusammen. TC: 10:12:03 ZT: Wenn es ordentlich zappelt... / Zappelnde Fische im Netz, werden von Hand aus dem Netz geholt. ZT: freut sich der Fischer. / Fische werden von Hand aus dem Netz geholt (nah).


Reference / film number :  LFS00689
Date :  1938
Coloration :  Black and white
Sound :  Mute
Running time :  00:12:50
Reel format :  16 mm
Genre :  Documentary
Archive :  Haus des Dokumentarfilms

Context and analysis

The Rhine was considered to be the most important and largest salmon river in Europe until the 20th century. The salmon spawned in the tributaries of the Rhine, and was so common that it was considered the food of the poor people. In general, there were large fish stocks in the Rhine and correspondingly many professional fishermen who could call on traditions back to the early Middle Ages. Typical fish native to the Rhine include eel, barbel, bream, chub, perch, crucian carp, carp, ruffe, salmon, nose, asp, roach, rudd, tench, tail, bleak, catfish and zander. The film shows the traditional fishing with nets, and in the subtitles he refers to this as an old tradition that the 'Germanic' descendants still practice in the Rhine. The lifting net, also called Daubel, is a fishing net, which is lowered by a boat to catch on the river bottom and lifted after some time, whereby the fish just over the net are caught in the net bag. The long yarn is a 50-meter-long net that can be used to fish wide areas, as shown in the film in a quarry pond.

Changes in the Rhine

The Congress of Vienna in 1815 had the goal of reorganizing Europe. A Rhine Commission was set up and the Rhine placed under international administration, as it was a collective good, which nourished all residents. This internationalization created the basis for a major project such as the straightening of the Rhine, which was planned by the civil engineer Johann Tulla from 1809 and from 1817 propelled. His book of 1825 sees rivers as enemies that must be tamed and he very accurately calculates the cost of such a project. At the beginning of the 20th century, the goal was to make the Rhine navigable to Basel and not only to Mannheim. After the First World War, the construction of the Grand Canal d'Alsace (1921-1959) began, which derived much water from the Rhine, but was important for shipping to Basel.

Changed living conditions for fish

These interventions fundamentally changed the habitat of the fish and biodiversity was lost. Overall, the Upper Rhine between Basel and Bingen was shortened by 81 kilometers, and it lost 8% of the habitats and over 2,000 islands. New built barrages and locks meant additional obstacles to fish migration. They made it impossible for the fish to migrate from their spawning grounds to the sea, as is their life cycle. In addition to overfishing, the living conditions for many fish species in the first half of the 20th century deteriorated due to pollution from prosperous industrial settlements along the river. They used the Rhine for the disposal of industrial wastewater. At the beginning of the 20th century, one spoke very clearly of "sacrificed sections", which should be allowed to pollute, especially in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. In the 1960s, the quality of the water was so bad that the entire Rhine could be regarded as a 'sacrificed section'. The use of the Rhine as cooling water of the nuclear power plants in the Rhine Valley also led to an increase in average temperatures. In 1986 there was a fire in the chemical group Sandoz in Basel. The toxic extinguishing water flowed into the Rhine and led to a mass extinction of fish. In general, fish species had the best chance of dealing with brackish water and were resistant to salts, chemicals and increasing warming of the water. So all salmon disappeared from the Rhine and its tributaries until the middle of the 20th century.

Resettlement of salmon

In 1987, the "International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine" (ICPR) adopted the "Salmon 2000 Project", which was intended to make salmon native to German rivers again. One success was that the water quality of the river could be greatly improved. The first restoration measures, such as the removal of hiking obstacles, were initiated. The goal of the successor project "Salmon 2020" are salmon populations that can be preserved in the Rhine itself. The salmon is again occasionally found in the Rhine and its inlets. But it will take decades before there are even self-reproducing salmon populations. At the moment, hundreds of thousands of young salmon are exposed annually, of which only a fraction returns. Salmon and spawning grounds were found again in 2011 in the Baden-Württemberg rivers Kinzig, Alb and Murg. There are currently 36 different fish species in the Rhine, of which 25 are considered native fish for the Rhine. 11 are atypical, alien species that have come mainly by exposure to the Rhine and reproduce here in part. The catfish is such an example, it proliferates very strong. In order to fish on the Rhine today, you need two important documents: a fishing license issued by the municipalities or the lower fisheries authority and a previously filed state fishery examination. In addition, you need a fishing license for the respective Rhine waters section.

Kay Hoffmann


CIOC Mark, Der geopferte Rhein. In: MERTENS Marion, KÜRY Daniel, Historische Lachsfangmethoden am Hochrhein und Oberrhein. In: Mitteilungen der Naturforschenden Gesellschaften bei Basel, 14/2013, S. 21-38. WIKIPEDIA:

TULLA Johann Gottfried, Über die Rektifikation des Rheins, von seinem Austritt aus der Schweiz bis zu seinem Eintritt in das Großherzogthum Hessen, C.F.Müller, Karlsruhe, 1825

  1. This film analysis is still in progress. It may therefore be incomplete and contain errors.