A crucial step in the development of a fish-based index for the ecological assessment of water bodies as provided by the European Water Framework Directive is to define a reference list of fish species occurring in pristine rivers. The aim of this study was to elaborate such a list. The reference corresponds to an ecological status that is referred to as Good or Maximal Ecological Potential (GEP/MEP). Based on historically-reported fish survey data of the Zeeschelde estuary (Belgian part of the Schelde estuary) and its tributaries, i.e. an affluent system, under tidal influence, presence/absence reference lists were compiled for different salinity zones and adjusted using information from recent catches. In addition, an MEP list of fishes occurring in the Westerschelde (Dutch part of the Schelde estuary), developed by JAGER & KRANENBARG (2004), is provided to present a complete overview of the Schelde estuary. Inclusion of fish species in the reference lists depended on their natural geographical distribution and ecological demands. These reference lists contain guild-specific information for the different zones within the estuary and its tidal tributaries.
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