Freshwater fish are under ever increasing pressure with one in three threatened with extinction.
Therefore, a team of scientists decided to apply for funding to find answers to why and what can be done about it. There are a number of well-known factors having a negative impact on fish like pollution, climate change, dams and hydropower. More recently it has become evident that the increase in fish predators like the cormorant can have a huge impact on certain fish species as well.
The scientists have asked 4 mill. EUR under the EU funding programme ‘Horizon’ to their project named ‘ProtectFish’. The team recently received an evaluation result from ‘Horizon’ of the project description. EFTTA has seen the evaluation report. The project got 11 points, which is good, but another project got 11.5 points, which has pushed ProtectFish onto a reserve list.
However, the evaluation contains a number of mistakes, which shouldn’t go unnoticed. Therefore, the scientist team has decided to deliver a complaint. There is a procedure for that with a deadline 7 August.
Even if the complaint doesn’t lead to funding it will be helpful in many ways for the future. In more than one place the evaluators have delivered statements, which reflect evaluators’ own opinions as there is no basis for them to be found in the project description. For example, the evaluators claim that the project suggests ‘culling’ (of cormorants), which the evaluators find is ‘controversial’, and therefore ‘social science’ should be applied, and stakeholders like BirdLife should be invited to take part in preparation of measures. The problem is, that no culling has been proposed in the ProtectFish project, so nothing ‘controversial’ has been suggested, and therefore it is unnessary to include ‘social science’, or to take onboard BirdLife or their likes as suggested by the evaluators. (By the way, BirdLife was invited but declined).
Evaluators are anonymous experts. And that’s how it should be. But it is difficult to grasp how experts can make such a number of one-sided banal mistakes. One wonders how much of an influence these errors have had on evaluators’ point givings?
Having encouraged the ProtectFish project from the early beginning, both EFTTA and EAA will continue to support the scientific team to ensure that the final assessment report is objective and correct.