The German freshwater pearl mussel stocks are too old and can therefore no longer sustain themselves. The main goal of the MARA project is to rejuvenate and therefore create long-term, survivable freshwater pearl mussel stocks.
This should be achieved by means of the following operationalised sub-goals:
- Habitat optimisation through the:
- Reduction of diffuse substance and sediment inputs from the catchment areas into the body of water
- Improvement of food resources for the freshwater pearl mussel and other filter feeders (e.g. thick-shelled river mussels, small species of mussels, different insect larvae) by encouraging the growth of natural floodplain vegetation
- Mitigation of low water levels through increased water retention in the area in order to lessen the effects of climate change
- Optimisation of the structure of bodies of water by adding dead wood and disturbing stones to support and preserve freshwater pearl mussel stocks, their host fish (brown trout) and other target species such as the common nase and the huchen
- Breeding of freshwater pearl mussels and their host fish (brown trout) in order to support stocks, with particular attention being paid to genetic diversity.
- Exemplary inclusion of land users to test management methods that reduce erosion and promote water retention, economic evaluation and national display of results in the form of a best-practice handbook for water-saving land use.
- Building of acceptance on a national level by conveying information about the importance of the freshwater pearl mussel to the target groups.
- Based on networks at both a local and national level, an international “Freshwater pearl mussel network” will be createdin order to facilitate the exchange of information and network protection efforts throughout Europe. The initiative will be oriented towards already available structures such as NORA – Native Oyster Restoration Alliance“ and the „COST-Initiative“ (Conservation of freshwater mussels: a pan-European approach) and will work with these structures directly.