Policy makers can do more to improve fish populations in the Wadden Sea

Tuesday 22 June 2021

Measures alone are not enough to ensure healthy fish populations in the Wadden Sea; policy must also be in order. Research by Paddy Walker of Tethys, commissioned by the Programme towards a Rich Wadden Sea (PRW), shows that there is still room for improvement.

Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands are working on the Swimway Programme: this is the joint initiative to strengthen fish populations in the Wadden Sea. The countries agreed on joint targets and Walker investigated whether the Dutch policy frameworks adequately supported these trilateral Swimway targets.

Better use of frameworks

Walker concludes that better use could be made of the existing frameworks. For example, the Natura 2000 documents could include more different fish species as typical species and the management plans could pay more attention to fish management measures. Walker also points to better implementation of the international OSPAR Convention, which the Netherlands has signed. Under this convention, agreements can be made about species such as eel, tope, starry smoothhound and thornback ray, and also sturgeon. The Netherlands has not implemented the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) in the Wadden Sea. Nevertheless, the systematics and ecosystem approach of the MSFD offer opportunities to make the Wadden Sea a better place for the different fish species using it during their life-cycle. You can download the report (in Dutch) here.


Walker recommends that the results be used in the updating of Natura 2000 and in the elaboration of the Wadden Agenda 2050. She suggests developing fish management plans in order to compile a package of measures. PRW will include this constructive advice in the further development of the Swimway programme.

More information?

M. (Martha) Buitenkamp. e-mail: m.buitenkamp@anantis.nl.

Here you can find more information about Swimway and the Swimway Action Programme.