Starting Shoal in Germany


(c) Michel Roggo

by Mike Baltzer

In October, I was invited to be a keynote speaker at the WWF European Freshwater Practice meeting in Berlin. While I was there, I also had a number of meetings aimed to help take Shoal forward in Germany. We are keen to establish a base in Germany to be able to work with companies and hobbyists in Germany and the rest of the European Union.

At the WWF meeting, I had four key messages for the WWF participants. I made the case that successful freshwater conservation must include:

  • Species first – a systems approach and policy led actions must be anchored on targeted impact at the species level
  • Support local action – hundreds of thousands of local actions is the best way to mobilise change and sustain impact
  • Form partnerships – Success lies in effective, powerful collaborations.
  • Raise awareness – despite being the number one priority for global conservation, freshwater biodiversity is the least well known.

Presenting at the WWF European Freshwater Practice Meeting in Berlin

Meeting with the team at ZZF in Weisbaden

While I only attended the first day of their four-day planning meeting, I learnt of their excellent programmes for free-flowing rivers, sturgeons and a new exciting global initiative for river dolphins.

Two other meetings of note started with Volker Homes, the Director of VdZ the German (Association of Zoo Gardens). He explained the importance of his organisation as a coordination and support to zoos that want to support conservation in the field or even by expert amateurs. Unfortunately, the Director of the Berlin Zoo, Dr Andreas Kneiriem, was away that week but we caught up by phone a week later and discussed a potential future partnership.

After Berlin, I travelled west to Weisbaden and the offices of ZZF. ZZF is the German Pet and Trade Association and the leading association for the aquarium trade. Dr. Stefan Hetz, a leading aquarist at ZZF invited six others from ZZF, BNA and Aquaria Glaser to discuss the next steps and needs for establishing Shoal in Germany. By the end of the week, it was clear that there is a great deal of enthusiasm, support and opportunities for Shoal in Germany and the next stage is to secure the funding to hire a person to represent Shoal in Germany.

I would like to thank everyone that took the time to meet with me and helped with the meetings and discussions.

VdZ Verband der Zoologischen Gärten

ZZF is Zentralverband Zoologischer Fachbetriebe Deustchlands

BNA is the Bundesverband für fachgerechten Natur-, Tier- und Artenschutz

Aquarium Glaser is a leading and widely respected fish supply company