Workshop on Conservation Management of Fish Populations in the Wadden Sea

On January 8th and 9th in 2015, the Programme towards a Rich Wadden Sea (PRW), the Thünen Institute of Sea Fisheries (TI) and the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (CWSS) conducted a workshop focusing on the “Conservation Management of Fish Populations in the Wadden Sea”, chaired by Ms. Anne Sell (TI).

57 participants from various sectors (science & research, policy, authorities and fisheries) spent two fruitful days at the Thünen Institute for Sea Fisheries in Hamburg discussing the options for the implementation of the trilateral fish targets. These targets are part of the Wadden Sea Plan 2010, the trilateral framework of the Cooperation on the Protection of the Wadden Sea. The need of implementation of these targets is also documented within the ministerial declaration from the Trilateral Governmental Conference in Tønder, Denmark, in February 2014.


10 presentations on fish in the Wadden Sea displayed a broad range of topics, from single projects to results of long term monitoring programmes (see below).

As an interactive part of the event, participants discussed the following topics originating from the fish targets in two parallel sessions:

1. Stocks: status and trends; drivers

2. Habitat: diversity; relationship fish-habitat

3. Nursery areas: a question of availability or changes in fish behavior?

4. Fish migration: Fish migration: trends in species distribution and pathways
    of  migration

The need for enhanced cooperation between the sectors and an intense exchange to further utilize the experience and knowledge of local fishermen were immediate results of the workshop, as well as first ideas of further fish related projects in the trilateral framework. Fishermen are at sea up to 40 weeks a year and could therefore provide basic monitoring in a temporal resolution most monitoring programmes cannot provide. Project options on a trilateral scale, with the aim to further implement the fish targets and to raise awareness of this important component of the ecosystem to the policy sector, but also to the public, were intensively discussed.


+++A detailed workshop report will be available anytime soon+++



Paddy Walker:
Aiming for the Fish Targets

Andreas Dänhardt:
The bigger picture: supplementing established   monitoring surveys with habitat-specific occurrence of fish in the WS

Katja Philippart/Martin Baptist/Henk van der Veer:
Fish, food webs and freely available data

Barbara Rodenburg:
How to include fishermen’s knowledge in management

Torsten Schulze/Katharina Schulte:
Fishing effort in the Wadden Sea - Difficult estimates in dendritic landscapes

Ingrid Tulp:
Trends in fish in Dutch waters

Holger Haslob:
Demersal young fish survey in German waters

Niels Jepsen:
Salmon, Sea trout and Houting in the Danish Wadden Sea - Management and challenges

Axel Temming:
Fisheries, climate and marine mammals conspire to challenge the paradigm of non-management of brown shrimp

Herman Wanningen:
Fish Migration River project Afsluitdijk & Swimway Concept Wadden Sea



The shallow coastal waters of the Wadden Sea and its tributary estuaries and rivers provide indispensable ecological functions for fish, such as reproduction and feeding, but also serve as an acclimatization area and transit route for long-distance diadromous fish. The Wadden Sea ecosystem is also connected with and influenced by the North Sea. Marine juveniles and marine seasonal species form an important constituent of the Wadden Sea fish fauna, which has a total of approximately 150 species of fish, including 13 freshwater species.

The Wadden Sea is protected in international policy agreements such as the Habitats Directive Natura 2000, the Water Framework Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. However, there are few direct management measures for fish species other than the diadromous fish such as Twaite shad, River lamprey and Sea lamprey, also Sturgeon, Houting and Salmon. In order to ensure the development of a healthy fish community, the three Wadden Sea countries - Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands – have developed a series of targets for fish which will be implemented through the Wadden Sea Plan. The targets for fish in the trilateral Wadden Sea Plan 2010 are as follows:

  1. Viable stocks of populations and a natural reproduction of typical Wadden Sea fish species
  2. Occurrence and abundance of fish species according to the natural dynamics in (a)biotic conditions
  3. Favorable living conditions for endangered fish species
  4. Maintenance of the diversity of natural habitats to provide substratum for spawning and nursery functions for juvenile fish
  5. Maintaining and restoring the possibilities for the passage of migrating fish between the Wadden Sea and inland waters