What is the aim of an ÖVVÖ Conservation Project?

The aim of an ÖVVÖ Conservation Project is to record a certain number of fish of a unit (i.e. a described or undescribed species or population) in a studbook and to maintain this unit in physiologically, genetically and behaviorally healthy stocks in aquaristics to the best of our knowledge and belief. Depending on the species or population, different measures are used to reduce undesirable effects such as inbreeding and genetic bottlenecks as much as possible. Which measures are used is determined by the project management and recorded in writing in the project framework. The basic prerequisite for inclusion of a unit in an ÖVVÖ Conservation Project is proof of a threat status. The development of the populations of these units is documented within the framework of the project and a possibility is created to react to development problems of the populations in time and to be able to intercept them.

Why should I join an ÖVVÖ Conservation Project or start one?

Of course, the idea of species conservation and the endeavor to take care of endangered fish species are not bound to any association structure. Everyone can take care of threatened animals personally and also as a lone fighter. Nevertheless, it makes sense for many reasons to establish or join an ÖVVÖ Conservation Project. On the one hand, we have a multilingual platform, which makes it much easier to approach like-minded people and interested parties, even across language barriers. Furthermore, the ÖVVÖ has a good reputation with its structured conservation projects. This gives the certainty that our projects work and it is guaranteed that work is done professionally. Additionally, we support our projects financially at the beginning and our principles connect private individuals and public institutions on eye level. Last but not least, it results in a community of conservation breeders across different projects who benefit from each other and exchange ideas. This broadens horizons and connects. Together instead of alone is simply successful.

How is an ÖVVÖ Conservation Project structured?

An ÖVVÖ Conservation Project is hierarchically structured with distributed tasks of the participants. These are, besides the superior project coordination, the project management, the project participants and associated breeders. At the beginning of the project, the project coordination and the project management write down a project description, define the project framework and create the studbook with the admission of project participants. This studbook and an annual inventory enable the project management to flexibly adjust the project instructions on an annual basis, which should ultimately guarantee a stable number of a unit in the project.

How do I become a participant in an ÖVVÖ Conservation Project?

Participation takes place by contacting the respective project management. The latter sends the documents required for participation, which the applicant then completes and returns to the project management. The acceptance of project participants requires a careful selection and is made by decision of the project management. The latter is free to give preference to logistical possibilities, breeding experience and geographical components when deciding on the order of receipt of animals from the project, if this is in the best interest of the animals. A list of interested parties is therefore kept, which does not necessarily reflect the order of acceptance into the project. However, transparency is paramount, along with an objective assessment of urgency.

Can I start an ÖVVÖ Conservation Project as a private person or as a public institution, and if so, how?

Yes, this is possible and even desired, however, the ÖVVÖ reserves the right to reject projects or to postpone their start if the threat status of a unit cannot be made credible, if a start seems too premature due to the maturity of the project idea, or if another project cannot be coordinated at this time due to the current workload with the existing projects or structural changes in the project coordination. The applicant simply sends a corresponding project application to the project coordination, which then takes care of the processing.

Does a project participant receive a confirmation for participating in the project?

Project participants do a great job in conserving the biodiversity of our planet. This is also recognised by the ÖVVÖ with a certificate of project participation, which confirms them as project participants and conservation breeders. This certificate is renewed annually and remains valid for one project year with a three-month transition period. In addition, each project participant receives a one-time certificate of provenance, issued separately for each unit, confirming the exact geographical origin of their animals and identifying them as animals of verified provenance. This is to prevent inaccuracies regarding the provenance and to always link animals with exact information on the original collection site.

Is there money available for the ÖVVÖ Conservation Projects?

Each project is entitled to a one-time support amount (currently Euro 500.-), which is composed of different parts of amounts from project sponsorships, supporting memberships and grants from the ÖVVÖ. The contribution is paid out in instalments according to the expenditure of the project, but requires an agreement with the project coordination, as the funds for all projects per year are limited. It is also possible for the project management to waive the support contribution altogether; however, this has to be deposited at the start of the project and will be included in the project frame.  

How can I financially support the ÖVVÖ Conservation Projects?

For ÖVVÖ Conservation Projects, a project sponsorship can be taken over by persons or institutions for an amount of your choice. This is always valid for two years, an extension of the project sponsorship is possible. A supporting membership of the ÖVVÖ with an annual amount can also be concluded. The ÖVVÖ and the project management guarantee that the money will be used for the intended purpose of the projects (e.g. for the acquisition of further breeding animals). The project sponsors are named on the homepage, but no project sponsor has a right to a breeding animal of any ÖVVÖ Conservation Project, regardless of the amount.

Are animals from an ÖVVÖ Conservation Project released into the wild?

No, usually they are not released into the wild; this could even be dangerous (e.g. pathogens could be released into the wild and endanger other species). The reintroduction of already extinct animal species or populations is subject to strict rules by the IUCN (Guidelines for Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations) and may only take place under scientific supervision. However, an ÖVVÖ Conservation Project provides an important pool of individuals from which a founder population can be assembled to serve as a starting point for breeding a population that can eventually be reintroduced. In exceptional cases, however, provided that it has been credibly verified that the fish do not carry any undesirable diseases and that they are able to survive a reintroduction without harm to themselves and the co-inhabitants of the waters due to their behavior (keyword: escape reflex) and physiological flexibility (e.g. in fluctuating temperature situations), a direct reintroduction under the supervision of a scientific organization or the IUCN can be envisaged.

May a project participant leave an ÖVVÖ Conservation Project?

Participation in a project is voluntary, which means that a project participant may of course leave an ÖVVÖ conservation breeding project. In all cases, the responsible project management decides what happens to the animals of the project. In order to avoid possible disputes, this should be fixed at the beginning of the project. However, animals that a project participant has brought into the project himself/herself and that do not originate from the project are excluded from the outset. Of course, they remain untouched when leaving the project.  

Does a project participant's violation of the requirements for project participation have personal consequences?

In principle, there are few rules that a project participant has to comply with as requirements for project participation. These are, on the one hand, compliance with the animal welfare laws of the respective country, the estimation and disclosure of one's stock within the framework of the annual inventory, the following of the instructions given by the project management, and possibly other rules that are anchored in writing in the respective project. In the case of minor violations, the project management gives direct warnings; in the case of more serious violations, the project management informs the project coordination. These two, together with the President of the ÖVVÖ and two members of the Presidium, then form a disciplinary tribunal, which discusses the offence and determines the consequences, which, depending on the severity, can range from a simple admonition (e.g. if the stock inventory is not handed in despite a request), to exclusion from the project (e.g. if project animals are handed in to the trade contrary to the project instructions) and even charges (e.g. in the case of gross violations of the Austrian Animal Welfare Law).

What happens if the project management of an ÖVVÖ Conservation Project does not fulfil its tasks?

In the unlikely event that both persons in the project management do not fulfil their tasks, they are requested by the project coordination to do so (tasks of the project management). If this is of no avail, a removal of the project leader is foreseen. There are two procedures for this. Either from within the project, in which case at least three project participants must formulate the justified request for removal in writing and send it to the project coordination, which will then take action after consultation with the ÖVVÖ Presidium, or from outside. In this case, the project coordination will act directly after prior consultation with the ÖVVÖ Presidium. In both cases, it takes over the project management on an interim basis until the election of a new project management. In case of dismissal, the project management must hand over the complete project documents to the project coordination within two weeks after the written notification of the dismissal. Irrespective of this, the project manager remains a project participant, provided that he/she does not leave the project.

Can an ÖVVÖ Conservation Project be dissolved?

Yes, if either all animals of the ÖVVÖ Conservation Project should die and the respective unit can no longer be procured (in the foreseeable future) (e.g. due to the political situation of the home country of this unit) or is considered to be extinct, if the justification of an ÖVVÖ Conservation Project no longer exists due to the large number of animals within and also outside the project (a written request for project dissolution by the project management and three project participants is sufficient for this), if the threat status of the unit has been lifted by an official body, or if no successor can be found due to the resignation or removal of the project management.

Can I join (or remain in) an ÖVVÖ conservation breeding project if I do not have fish that the conservation breeding project takes care of?

Of course this is possible. Someone who expresses so much interest in an ÖVVÖ Conservation Project that they join or stay with it even without breeding is an asset for the great goal of our projects:  To sensitise people to the problems of our fish and to turn them into fellow campaigners. Conversely, however, project participants have no fundamental right to fish from the project. When a project participant receives which and how many fish from the project is determined by the responsible project management and the rules they set up.