Environment groups call for more effective marine protection

by   Profile Mares   When 18th March 2016
The North Sea island of Sylt. A few kilometres west lies Sylt Outer Reef, a nursery for porpoises. (c) Olaf Klodt
The North Sea island of Sylt. A few kilometres west lies Sylt Outer Reef, a nursery for porpoises. (c) Olaf Klodt

German environmental organisations have called for a more effective
level of marine protection in the North and Baltic Sea by Federal Minister of
Food and Agriculture Christian Schmidt and Federal Environment Minister Barbara

a joint statement, they highlighted the need for stricter rules to be applied
to NATURA 2000 fisheries in marine-protected areas within the Exclusive
Economic Zone (EEZ) in the future. The official procedure of participation
regarding the measures proposed by the Environment and Agriculture Ministry
will run till March 22nd.

to them, the current measures are
insufficient to provide protection to the porpoise (the only German whale) and
rare stone reefs and sandbanks, and that human activities like destructive
fishing methods must be banned in at least half of the protected areas.

environmental groups concerned are BUND, Deep Wave, DNR, DUH, Greenpeace, NABU,
protection Wattenmeer, Whale & Dolphin Conservation and WWF.

are critical of the lack of measures directed at the Baltic Sea Protected
Areas, as well as the proposed measures for the North Sea's Sylt Outer Reef
with Amrum Bank (which, incidentally, is the nursery area for the harbour
porpoises). They are also calling for stricter measures pertaining to fishing
activities in protected areas, such as prohibiting the use of bottom trawls
which damage the seabed or gillnets in which countless seabirds and dolphins
end up as bycatch. The associations reiterate that only with the establishment
of fishing-free zones can nature reserves fulfill their functions as refuges
for threatened species and natural habitats.

No damaging fishing methods in nature reserve

point of criticism is the fact that the German brown shrimp (Crangon crangon)
fisheries at the eastern part of the Sylt Outer Reef are exempted from having
to comply with the guidelines, even though their fishing methods are
environmentally destructive. To this, the organisations commented that the
exception for the brown shrimp industry had thwarted the word “reserve”, as the bottom trawls they use are damaging to
the seabed. For them, the impact of applying the guidelines to them would
actually be minimal, as the amount of catch generated at this location
comprises less than three percent of their annual catch quantity.

report, drafted by the German government's joint recommendations for fisheries
management will be sent to the European Commission and the EU member states who
conduct fishing activities in the North Sea. This latter group includes
Denmark, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Belgium and France. Before the
measures are implemented in Germany, all the countries must agree to the

for the environmental groups, they fear a further softening of measures in the
forthcoming European process. A spokesperson for the organisations said that
the fishery industry had too often prevailed against the interests of
applicable conservation law enforced at the EU level, hence for this time, the
federal government may not agree to any political minimum consensus in the

Written by
Profile Mares
When 18th March 2016
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