Wadden region full of fish again

Thursday 3 March 2022

A Wadden Sea area full of fish seems to be an image from a bygone age. The new report Swimway Wadden Sea and Hinterland, drawn up by the consultancy OAK and the World Fish Migration Foundation, breathes new life into this image. The report was commissioned by the Programma naar een Rijke Waddenzee (PRW) (Programme towards a Rich Wadden Sea), Rijkswaterstaat and the Wadden Investment Framework.

Restoration of Wadden Sea fish populations: still a lot to do

In recent years, many different parties in the Northern Netherlands have worked hard on the recovery of fish populations in the Wadden Sea region. All current initiatives have been listed. The Swimway – the way in which the fish use the Wadden Sea area and the sea – is not yet in order. The report shows what has already been done and what is still needed to improve it further. Good cooperation between the parties is crucial to help species such as eel, smelt, flounder, sea trout and river lamprey. It involves optimising measures along the coast and in inland waters, joint research programmes and coordination of major improvements to fish migration at the sluices in the Afsluitdijk and Lauwersmeer.

Fully illustrated story

The story of the Swimway Wadden & Achterland can serve as an umbrella for all the necessary efforts for the Swimway in the Northern Netherlands. With beautiful illustrations, the report describes how fish use the Wadden Sea, the Wadden coast and sometimes the fresh water in the hinterland to complete their life cycle.

Impression of diadromous fish species whose life cycle connects the Wadden Sea, Lauwersmeer and the upstream hinterland freshwater bodies

Different efforts

In the framework of the trilateral cooperation Swimway Wadden Sea, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark have jointly agreed on five objectives to work on robust and viable populations, restoration of the breeding ground function of the Wadden Sea, fish migration measures and protection of endangered fish species. PRW has worked on these goals in recent years with various parties in the Netherlands. The report shows which projects and programmes are taking place where. And a lot has happened. New fish passages, for example, help fish move freely from the sea to inland waters and vice versa. Scientific research has taught us where fish are, how they behave and what they need to complete their life cycle. This knowledge helps in better fish management. Tightening up the protection policy, as laid down in the WFD and N2000, among other things, must also contribute to improving the fish stock in the Wadden Sea.

The necessary tasks at hand

There is still a lot to do. The report shows what we still lack in knowledge and which measures and policy adjustments are required. It is a warm plea for strengthening the mutual cooperation of the parties involved, so that we can once again speak of a Wadden Sea full of fish.

You can find a part of the illustrations of the report here, they are free for use.

More information

Martha Buitenkamp of PRW. Tel: +31 (0)6 21 57 84 77. E-mail: m.buitenkamp@anantis.nl.