Open Access

Management of the Wadden Sea

  • W. J. Wolff1 and
  • J. J. Zijlstra2
Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen33:BF02414783

https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02414783

Abstract

The Wadden Sea situated along the North Sea coasts of Denmark, the Federal Republic of Germany and The Netherlands represents one of the world's largest bar-built type of estuaries. The area is a typical sedimentation and mineralization basin, with a large influx of organic matter from the adjoining North Sea, consequently a delicate oxygen balance and a rich benthic macrofauna, poor in species, which serves as food for juveniles of some commercially important North Sea fishes and for large numbers of migrating and wintering waders and waterfowl. Past and present activities of the human society in the area include fisheries (mainly for shrimp and mussels, semi-culture), shipping, land reclamation, recreation, dredging for sand and shells, and waste discharge from industries and human communities. Until the present these activities, although sometimes conflicting, did not fundamentally affect the area and its biota (pollution excluded), but future claims, including the construction of large deep-sea harbours, drilling for natural gas and oil, large-scale land reclamation and increased industrialization etc., might gradually induce degradation. For instance, area reduction by continued land reclamation could lead to irreversible losses of specific biotopes (e. g. salt-marshes, mud-flats), which could affect the size of bird and fish populations in a much wider region. Increased pollution, which has already inflicted damage on bird and seal populations, could reduce the fauna and hence the value of the area as a natural sanctuary. In the event of a proposal for a new human activity in the area, the present standing practice in the countries concerned requires an evaluation of its safety and economic aspects and its environmental impact. However, the various plans are considered separately and there is a general need for integrated management of the area.

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