| Marine Natura 2000 Management: Experience from Germany
Germany’s coastal waters inhabit countless rare and endangered marine species. At the same time the North and the Baltic Seas are some of the most industrialized marine areas world-wide. Despite large designated Natura 2000 sites, many marine protected areas in German waters are at risk to become paper parks, only, due to a fundamental lack of management and regulation of human activities.
About 45% of the German waters in the North and the Baltic Seas are marine protected areas (MPA) under the Natura 2000 network. 104 sites have been designated, most of them in coastal waters within 12 nautical miles and under the federal states’ control. Ten areas are located in Germany’s EEZ. The proposal and designation of MPAs include a commitment of developing and implementing detailed management plans specific for each site until 2014. This is an overdue process because currently many human activities such as fishing, shipping or sand and gravel extraction are taking place inside the protected areas and are causing serious harm to the marine environment. Management plans are therefore urgently needed to set environmental targets, protection measures and monitoring programmes in order to comply with EU and national legislation.
Finally, in 2011 the Federal Environmental Agency (BfN) started a project to develop management plans for the Natura 2000 sites in the EEZ. NABU (BirdLife in Germany) is contributing to this process by means of a specific project funded by the Environmental Ministry and the BfN. The project aims to inform stakeholders about the process and intends to establish a platform for discussion and dialogue. NABU develops specific information materials and organises regional workshops in order to propose practical solutions for an effective MPA management.
The German Natura 2000 sites can provide an important contribution to the European network of MPAs. But without strict regulation of human activities and the establishment of no-take-areas the environmental targets will not be met. Today, user groups, in particular fishermen, are collectively opposing regulative measures. Regarding fisheries, the ICES EMPAS project suggested measures for marine protected areas including spatial-temporal closures and alternative fishing gear. National authorities are currently discussing what measures are adequate for German sites, but according to NABU’s view some proposed measures fall too short or are even in conflict with environmental laws.
NABU calls for a transparent process for the development of MPA management involving all relevant stakeholders at an early stage. In order to comply with national and European environmental law site-specific zoning systems have to be established. In addition, threatened and declining species and habitats listed by regional agreements such as OSPAR and HELCOM have to be considered in the Natura 2000 site management carefully. Already existing national parks in the Wadden Sea and international marine parks such as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park can provide an essential contribution for effective site management and successful stakeholder involvement.
| Further reading:
German Agency for Nature Conservation – in English
OSPAR Commission, protection of the marine environment in the North-East Atlantic and its resources
Helsinki Commission, Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission
NABU (BirdLife partner in Germany)
Kim Detloff, Kim.Detloff(at)NABU.de