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International conference

on protecting and restoring

free-flowing rivers in Europe

April 15-17, 2024 | Oosterpoort, Groningen, The Netherlands

Organised by World Fish Migration Foundation and Institute for Fisheries Management

About the conference

 

Free Flow 2024 is an international conference on protecting and restoring free-flowing rivers that is gathering policy makers, river managers, ecologists, researchers, students and industry. Rivers are under threat and freshwater biodiversity in decline. More than ever, the need to find solutions to build climate resilience and safeguard rivers that adapt to a changing environment becomes pressing for the future of nature and people. The conference has space for 120 speakers. Experts, researchers, practitioners are invited are send in abstracts before October 13, 2023.

The conference is synchronised with the SWIMWAY conference 2024 that is taking place on April 17-19, 2024, in Groningen.

Conference themes

The conference themes presented below are the basis for our Call for abstracts and the conference sessions. 

  1. Dam removal / Fish passage projects
  2. Ecology and hydromorphology of free-flowing rivers
  3. Freshwater fish & fisheries
  4. Hydropower development vs free-flowing rivers
  5. Policies for free-flowing rivers
  6. River restoration tools & projects
  7. Cultural and socio-economic aspects of free-flowing rivers
  8. Funding river restoration projects
  9. Nature-based solutions

Meet our moderator

Ella McSweeney is an Irish journalist and reporter. She is a science (zoology) graduate from Trinity College, Dublin and holds a masters in food policy from City University, London.

She works across radio, television and print for a variety of broadcasters and publications, including RTE, BBC, The Guardian and the Irish Times, amongst othersShe’s presented a wide range of radio shows for RTE, including Shanks Mare, Documentary on One, Into the Deep, award-winning Mind Matters, Future Tense, Nature’s Web, The Green Light, Farm Week and CountrywideFor BBC, she has reported for and presented Farming Today, On Your Farm and The Food Programme on Radio 4, and documentaries on BBC World ServiceShe also does investigative reporting for The Guardian, including work on the use of migrant labour in the fishing and meat industries.

She has presented RTE’s food and farming television series Ear to the Ground since 2009, and other series such as Big Week on the Farm, The Consumer Show and more recently, Open for Business.   

Ella McSweeney

Ella McSweeney is an Irish journalist and reporter. She is a science (zoology) graduate from Trinity College, Dublin and holds a masters in food policy from City University, London.
She works across radio, television and print for a variety of broadcasters and publications, including RTE, BBC, The Guardian and the Irish Times, amongst others. She’s presented a wide range of radio shows for RTE, including Shanks Mare, Documentary on One, Into the Deep, award-winning Mind Matters, Future Tense, Nature’s Web, The Green Light, Farm Week and Countrywide. For BBC, she has reported for and presented Farming Today, On Your Farm and The Food Programme on Radio 4, and documentaries on BBC World Service. She also does investigative reporting for The Guardian, including work on the use of migrant labour in the fishing and meat industries.
She has presented RTE’s food and farming television series Ear to the Ground since 2009, and other series such as Big Week on the Farm, The Consumer Show and more recently, Open for Business.

Meet the keynote speakers

Pao Fernández Garrido

Pao Fernández Garrido studied Forestry Engineering in Madrid and did her Master’s in Ecosystems Restoration. She had the great opportunity to do her master practices on fishway evaluations with PIT and Radio telemetry in Massachusetts and got specialized in technical and naturalized fishways design. Later she got trained on dam removal projects by Laura Wildman and her team in the US Easter Coast. She started designing fishways in England, but very soon after she began working for World Fish Migration Foundation. She has been the events coordinator for World Fish Migration Day since 2014 and has been responsible of the collection of the river barrier inventories in Europe for AMBER project. Dam Removal Europe project developer along with Herman Wanningen and responsible for the content and research of the dam removal studies globally, now she is the dam removal facilitator and tries to support the movement which keeps growing every day.

Zeb Hogan

Zeb Hogan is a research professor at the University of Nevada, Reno and the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species Scientific Councilor for Fish. He has a doctoral degree in ecology from the University of California, Davis, was a visiting Fulbright scholar in the Environmental Risk Assessment Program at Thailand’s Chiang Mai University and has served as a World Wildlife Fund Senior Freshwater Fellow. Hogan also hosts the Nat Geo Wild television series “Monster Fish.” His research focuses on migratory fish ecology, freshwater biodiversity, and endangered species issues. As a National Geographic Fellow and Explorer, Hogan led a multi-year effort to find, study, and protect the world’s largest freshwater fish. Hogan is currently the Principal Investigator of the USAID-funded Wonders of the Mekong project. The goal of the Wonders of the Mekong project is to document and highlight the value of the Mekong River through research, capacity building, and science communication. Zeb is the co-author of the new book "Chasing Giants: In Search of the World's Largest Freshwater Fish".

Jeff Duda

Jeff Duda is a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at the Western Fisheries Research Center in Seattle, Washington. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Biology from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and is a certified senior ecologist with the Ecological Society of America. At USGS for 25 years, Jeff conducts research to determine the ecological effects of human activities and natural disturbance regimes on a wide variety of aquatic and terrestrial organisms and ecosystems throughout the United States.

Since 2004, Jeff has developed research programs in freshwater, estuarine, and marine ecosystems to understand the ecological outcomes of largest dam removal in U.S. history on the Elwha River. He also examines dam removal at continental and international scales, synthesizing what is known about the science of dam removal in several publications and a database called the Dam Removal Information Portal. He has published over 75 scientific journal articles and reports, which can be found online at his USGS Profile https://www.usgs.gov/staff-profiles/jeffrey-duda.

Gabriel Singer

I am a river ecosystem ecologist who doesn´t stop when the channel falls dry or the water stops flowing. I have learned my trade in Vienna, grew to a senior scientist in Berlin, and now act as a Professor in the mountains at Innsbruck University. To understand how rivers shape the global carbon cycle, I and my team study their linkages to the landscape and appreciate the full diversity of habitats along the continuum from source to sea. Riding their waves with a kayak helps, too. Our research is dedicated to the movement and processing of materials in rivers and their linkages to aquatic biodiversity. The fascination for fluvial ecology is married with a concern about what we may lose if we keep treating rivers as we do now.

The Programme at a glance

The event will take place in Groningen, and it is expected around 400 delegates from all over Europe and the rest of the world. Full programme will be announced in early December.

April 15 & 16

Two days of around hundred presentations divided in parallel sessions with keynote speakers opening proceedings each day on the main stage. There will also be a cocktail reception on the first evening and conference dinner on the second. During the day there will also be poster sessions and a marketplace with relevant industry representatives. This will all take place in the creative atmosphere of the Oosterpoort venue.

April 17

As a part of the conference, we are offering five field trip options which are organised in cooperation with Wadden Sea Swimway project. You can choose to visit a river restoration and fish passage projects including the fish migration river. Click below and find out more about the field trip options. 

Field trips

Side events

We offer several side events to make your Free Flow experience complete.  

Dam Removal Course

During and after the conference we offer space for courses, movie screenings, project meetings. This way we maximize the opportunities to meet up with colleagues and build connections. 

If you are interested in organizing a side event, please contact herman@fishmigration.org 

Important dates

  • June 15, 2023  

    Save the date & call for abstracts launch

 

  • September 5, 2023  

    Registration opens

 

  • October 13, 2023  

    Call for abstracts closes

 

  • November 15, 2023  

    Speakers selected and invited

 

  • December 5, 2023

     Announcement: Programme on the website

 

  • March 1, 2024

    Final call   

 

  • April 15-17, 2024 

    Free Flow Conference

Frequently asked questions

Registration

Registrations opened on September 5, 2023 and tickets are available for purchase before April 1, 2024 or until sold out. Place is limited so we advise you to book as soon as possible – 100 tickets are already sold. 

Tickets are being sold through a platform Eventbrite. After completing a purchase, you will receive invoice and tickets to your email address.  

Price and refund policy

Price list 

All the prices include VAT.  

  Regular price  Student price 
General attendance fee  229,90€  114,95€ 
Conference dinner  75,63€  60,50€ 
Excursion (5 options to choose from)  50,82€   50,82€ 

The tickets for April 15 and 16 include lunch and refreshments. The ticket for April 17 includes travel and lunch. The conference dinner and field trips are optional.    

By registering, you are accepting that we include your name and affiliation (no email addresses) on a registration list that we will facilitate to all attendees.  

Tickets are refundable until 30 days before the event. Reimbursements are done automatically through Eventbrite platform.

Student offer

We are happy to see full time students in higher education joining the Free Flow 2024 conference and we offer discounts to make it easier to come along. For more information on eligibility and how to get reduced price, please contact neza@fishmigration.org 

Places are limited and available until sold out on a first come, first served basis. 

The venue

Oosterpoort is a creative venue in the city of Groningen,  in the north of the Netherlands.  It has an excellent atmosphere for networking.  

Address: 

Oosterpoort 

Trompsingel 27, 9724 DA Groningen  

Travel information

Groningen is easily reached by car or using public transport. The city has a direct train connection with Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS). There is a small international airport Eelde (GRQ), but with limited connections.  

Public transport 

Train
https://www.ns.nl/ 

Bus
https://www.ovbureau.nl/ 
https://www.flixbus.nl 

What to do in Groningen

https://suikerterrein.nl/
https://www.visitgroningen.nl/nl

Accommodation

Groningen offers diverse accommodation options for every budget. We advise you to visit websites like booking.com and airbnb.com to find an accommodation that suits your needs. 

The SWIMWAY conference 2024

Free Flow 2024 synchronised and organised in close cooperation with the SWIMWAY conference 2024 to be held later the same week also in Groningen. Please visit their website for more information. We strongly encourage you to register for both conferences!

Contact

For more information regarding the conference, please contact Neza Posnjak at neza@fishmigration.org 

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