In the German city of Koblenz, about 550km upstream the North Sea, Father Rhine and Mother Mosel meet. The Mosel River is the second largest tributeary of the Rhine; I also met the Main in Mainz, the Necker in Mannheim, and the Aare in Waldshut, plus other smaller tribs like the Alb and Sieg.
At this significant confluence is a plaza called Deutsches Eck (“German Corner”) with fluttering flags, accordion buskers, tourists and a monumental equestrian statue of William I, first German Emperor. Just up the Rhine is a cable car to travel across the river and up to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress.
This part of Koblenz was enhanced for the 2011 Federal Horticultural Show (Bundesgartenschau), which brought 3 million visitors and had a budget of €102 million. Cities apply to host the biannual show and invest significantly in landscaping, infrastructure and visitor amenities.
One of the investments was the MOSELLUM, a fabulous riverside visitor center with a silver shiny exterior designed to resemble fish scales. It looks out on the first dam on the Mosel (in its 645km length there are ten dams in Germany, and twelve more in Luxembourg and France). The director gave me a great tour, but confessed that his primary job was with a different department of the government and he didn’t have sufficient time or staff to offer educational programs. But the permanent exhibits (in English and German) explain the geography, trade & transportation & construction of dams and hydropower, sensitising visitors to the effects on the ecosystem, specifically on fish migration. It’s a perfect site for a World Fish Migration Day event. I hope they will start a volunteer docent or student intern program to capitalize on their well designed facility.
The dam offers three types of upstream fish passage, but no safe downstream route. A disturbingly honest sign showed what happened when eels, migrating out to their mysterious Sargasso Sea breeding grounds, were swept into hydroelectric turbines. Until a technical solution is devised, fishermen are hired to catch the eels and transport them via truck down to the Rhine, which is free of turbines for 700 km from the sea to Iffezheim. K