Implementation of fishing covenants and agreements

Upon request by the commissioning parties, the programme will continue – in its capacity as intermediary – to serve as the independent secretariat for the various fishing agreements, ensure that the agreed targets are met and bolster innovation whenever necessary. With the exception of the Oyster Agreement, this involves agreements that were formulated and entered into force in the past and that continue to apply in the period 2019-2022.

  • The Mussel Agreement:In the period to come, the main challenge faced in relation to the Mussel Agreement will be to ensure sufficient space for new mussel seed capture installations and mussel cultivation plots. The ambition to conduct mussel seed fishing completely separately from the seabed remains in place and opportunities outside the Wadden Sea will be sought in order to realise this goal. During the coming transition, greater attention will be paid to the ecological and economic feasibility of alternative solutions.
  • The Prawn Agreement:The 50% reduction of the impact of prawn fishing on the ecological value of the Wadden Sea must be achieved in 2020. This will be done based on a reduction of the number of ships, upscaling of protected areas and implementation of the sustainability plan. The VisWad Agreement (Wadden Fish Agreement) provides opportunities to experiment with active restoration of seabed structures.
  • The Hand-Raked Cockle Agreement:As of 2019, the Hand-Raked Cockle Agreement will enter a third stage based on an evaluation and possible adjustment of the previous agreements. The cockles’ natural spat settlement will ultimately determine the opportunities to perform this type of fishing in the Wadden Sea in the period to come.
  • The Oyster Agreement:Over the past ten years, the Japanese oyster has transitioned from an unwanted invasive species to a more welcome ecosystem-engineering species. The ecological value of oyster beds as a habitat for many other species (including mussels) is very high and the huge numbers of oysters also creates opportunities for small fishing companies. The oysters in the Wadden Sea are of high quality and the regional market is growing. In order to embed this new activity, a policy framework has been agreed to specify how this type of fishing can be sustainably implemented. PRW is supporting the process of getting the pickers to work towards the most sustainable implementation in the years to come.

Role of the PRW:

Results to be delivered:

  • At least half of the current mussel seed fishing area will be closed to mussel seed fishing in 2022.
  • At least two pilots will be deployed in 2020 in order to research alternative possibilities for the cultivation of mussel seed outside the Wadden Sea.
  • Some 12% of the Wadden seabed will be free of seabed-disturbing activities in 2020.
  • In 2020, the fleet of prawn fishing ships will have been reduced by at least 10 and the remaining fleet will conduct its activities with a wider mesh size, lighter vessels and fewer hours on the water.
  • The hand-raked cockle fishermen will be able to conduct their activities sustainably with minimum impact on the seabed and birds in the Wadden Sea region.
  • An interim evaluation will be conducted in 2021 to indicate the future prospects of sustainable oyster picking.
  • An overview of the possible impact of fishing with static fishing gear will be compiled in 2020, together with a plan of action. An agreement on this matter will be concluded with the parties involved by 2022.

Commissioning parties:

  • Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality
  • Provinces in the Wadden Sea region: North Holland, Friesland and Groningen
  • Natural Wadden Coalition
  • Fishing sectors

Follow-up action by:

  • Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality