Involved - Gravel for the fish

Gravel will help to wash out the sand. | Foto: Frank Schlichting
Semih Serbes does not only know the Jungfernstieg but also the wild side of the Alster. Therefore, the Globetrotter colleague from Hamburg volunteers to help with the renaturalization of his favourite river.

If you grow up in Poppenbüttel, are a member of the Alster fishing club (AVA) and you like to go canoeing in front of your doorstep,  then you will have an especially close relationship to your home river. Just like Semih Serbes. For many years now, the online product manager at Globetrotter has been volunteering for “Lebendige Alster” (Living River Alster), a project supported by the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) Hamburg and the AVA.

Semih is volunteering. | Foto: Michael Neumann
Kingfisher and otter

This tributary to the Elbe, known to every Hamburg tourist as the Binnen- and Außenalster, has its source 56 kilometres further north and has many facets. “Not many people know that you can actually observe animals such as kingfishers and otters out here”, says Semih, raving about the headwaters of the Alster. However, especially in the city region of Hamburg, a lot of building measures such as floodgates and straightened riversides have damaged the river. “Our biggest enemy is sand which enters the river across concrete or tarmac surfaces or via the winter grit”, explains Semih. “The sand then covers the gravel banks like a burial shroud, but fish need such places to spawn.” 

The 48-year old does not just talk, he also lends a hand. So he and his colleagues from NABU speed up the current with gravel fill so that the sand is washed away. “In other areas, we have put in tree stumps because the deadwood and the moving currents around them create a habitat for animals again.” Semih knows that paddlers and locals are sceptical about a renaturalization – but he embodies all of these interests, and the heart of the environmentalist is the loudest one.

Semih is an electro-fisherman

At the moment, Semih is devoting particular attention to sea trout. Like salmon, the fish swim into rivers to spawn. Some specimen have even managed to cross the Alster floodgates. A breeding programme is now intended to aid their return. 

“First, we need to catch the fish which are just ready to spawn using an electro fishing line,” explains Semih. “Then, we massage out the roe of the female and the milt of the male and mix them together unromantically. In a former fish farm, we grow the fry to put them back into the River Alster later on.” Semih has the necessary certificate for electro fishing. “An electro fishing line numbs the fish but does not cause any permanent damage,” assures Semih. Semih’s employer helps with the equipment (see below).

Only recently, when rescuing fish from a lock run nearly dry, Semih experienced how useful it is for him to work at Hamburg’s equipment retailer. “First, we just got bogged down in the mud and could not reach the fish,” says Semih. “So I got snow shoes – it worked well then.”


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Globetrotters volunteer support

Not only Semih Serbes, but many employees at Globetrotter Ausrüstung like to get involved in social issues and environmental protection under their own zest and love for nature. Globetrotter regards this volunteer support as a valuable contribution to society as well as its own business culture. So Globetrotter supports its employees with the realisation of their projects. And Globetrotter has set aside a budget to spend on such local events or special employee trips which focus on social or ecological issues.

More information (in German) on: