Mörrumsån river

The main purpose with LIFE CONNECTS in Mörrumsån river is to improve connectivity and river habitats to gain favorable conservation status for prioritised Nature 2000 habitat types and species, especially Atlantic salmon, Freshwater pearl mussel, Thick-shelled river mussel and Eurasian otter.

The Mörrumsån river is the largest river in Blekinge county. The river is 186 km long and has a catchment area of ​​3,369 km2. Its sources are on the border between Jönköping and Kronoberg counties and runs through a forest and lake landscape before it enters into the Gulf of Pukavik in the Baltic Sea at Mörrum in Blekinge county.
The water bodies of the Mörrumsån river are classified to moderate and poor status (classification according to the Water Framework Directive, WFD) mainly due to lack of connectivity, changed morphology and eutrophication. The river has been affected for a long time by humans in the form of straightening, cleaning of riverbed structures and dams. There are several barriers present in the river and long stretches lack larger substrates such as blocks, stones and gravel.

Although the Mörrumån River is influenced by anthropogenic disturbances (human impact), it represents one of Sweden’s richest watercourses, both in fish and other aquatic organisms. It can serve as a sanctuary and source for the future spread of many vulnerable species. More than half of Sweden’s freshwater fish species are found in the river, including Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), Brown trout (Salmo trutta), European river lamprey (Lampetra fluviatilis) and European eel (Anguilla anguilla). Mörrumsån river has one of Europe’s best known (fast growing and large) salmon stocks and is one of the largest producers of wild salmon in the Baltic Sea. The annual smolt production is estimated to be 15,000 individuals. However, the local conservation status is classified as unfavorable to poor and follows a negative trend, which is why the species is prioritized in the management plan for the Natura 2000 sites. The Mörrumsån river has a valuable flora and fauna with many sensitive and pure water-demanding species. All seven larger mussel species found in Sweden are present in the river. These include two of Europe’s most endangered freshwater mussels, the Freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) and Thick-shelled river mussel (Unio crassus), which are protected in the Habitats Directive and prioritised in the management plans for the Nature 2000 sites.
Mörrumsån also has a high value for terrestrial plants and animals living around the river. A stable population of White-throated dipper (Cinclus cinclus), Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) and a smaller population of Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) are present in the catchment area. One species that is protected in the Habitats Directive and which is also a prioritised in the Natura 2000 sites within the Mörrumsån river basin is the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra).

Within LIFE CONNECTS in Mörrumsån river, three barriers will be restored and river restoration implemented on 12 km. This will provide positive benefits for the project’s target species as free migration paths together with restored habitats will increase fish production and thus the presence of host fish for the threatened mussels. Removing of migration barriers and river restoration in the form of block restoration and creation of spawning grounds will improve migration, sediment transport, spawning and nursery areas as well as create a more natural bottom structure and flow dynamics. It benefits not only migratory species but also other aquatic species and many other organisms in and around the river. This will also contribute to improved water chemistry and conservation status for the designated Nature 2000 habitat types and related species.
Around 40 kmof Mörrumsån river is Natura 2000 areas with the priority natural types “Natural larger watercourses of the Phoenician type” and “Estuaries” (Natura 2000 codes: 3210 and 1130). Designated Natura 2000 species are Atlantic salmon, Freshwater pearl mussel, Thick-shelled river mussel and and Eurasian otter.
When the effects of the measures show favorable conservation status, the management plan for the Natura 2000 sites will be revised. Similarly, the plan for national interest in outdoor recreation will be revised. Mörrumsån river is a very important area for outdoor recreation and fishing tourism is probably one of the most important tourist attractions in Blekinge county. Every year, tourists from all over the world visit the Mörrumsån river to fish and experience the beauty and power of the river. In addition, the public’s awareness of restoration and the importance of preserving important species in rivers will be strengthened by disseminating the results and experiences from the Project at the information center, which already exists in Mörrum.

This post is also available in: Svenska (Swedish)