Photo of the week: Swimming upstream


A recently inaugurated structure at the Sluispark in Leuven has succeeded exactly in what it was meant to do

Encouraging results

Until now, the Sluispark weir in Leuven, Flemish Brabant, has formed an insurmountable obstacle to the 25 different species of fish that try to swim upstream the Dijle river each autumn. The fish do this to get to the river’s upper reaches, which offer the ideal spawning and rearing grounds.

It’s why the Flanders Environment Agency recently decided to build a fish ladder (pictured) around the weir that breaks up its 1.5m difference level into 23 smaller steps of 7cm that are manageable for the fish.

Katrien Smet, spokesperson for the Flanders Environment Agency, said the first results had been encouraging. “Initial tests reveal that at least eight species of fish are already using the fish ladder or have settled there,” she said in a press statement.

The area around the Sluispark in Leuven has undergone several urban renewal projects in recent years in which water has played a central role. A water playground was for instance opened and large steps laid that invite visitors to sit down next to the river arms.

Dirk Vansina, public works city councillor in Leuven, said the aim had been to design a fish ladder that would not only be interesting to the fish, but also to Sluispark visitors. “The steppingstones make it possible to walk around and cross the fish ladder. This way you can get closer to the water and have a fuller experience,” he said.

Photo courtesy: Flanders Environment Agency