Anthropogenic use of water resources is driving high levels of decline and extinction in freshwater species, in large part due to the  extensive impacts of hydrological alteration and fragmentation, which is leading to major disruption of fish migration routes.

The Global Swimways concept for freshwater migratory fish was developed to quantify this threat, as a way to connect fish, rivers and people globally, and to foster international cooperation in the management of transboundary fish migration routes. The first map of potential Global Swimways has been created for selected regions of the world within a feasibility study funded by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative. 

In this initial feasibility study potential Swimways were identified according to a preliminary set of criteria on presence of migratory freshwater fish including: species richness, the number of threatened and endemic migratory fish using each river system, and the length of migrations undertaken. The resulting potential Swimways are visualized using an interactive online map explorer (Interactive map available June 2021). 

We also developed a new tool within the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT[DW1] ) that highlights the presence of fish migration routes near existing or planned infrastructure. (follow this link to read more about our outcomes). 

Moving forwards we are now working on a larger proposal to raise funds to fully develop Global Swimways for freshwater fishes and to strengthen policy tools such as through the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS). Proposed work includes filling current information gaps so ensuring all Swimways are mapped globally, strategic planning to protect Swimways, evaluation of additional criteria on socio-economic consideration and raising awareness. For more information, please feel free to contact us at