To protect endangered species and habitats, the EU Commission has imposed new fishing bans and restrictions in the North Sea. As can be seen from a published regulation, the marine protection areas Sylt Outer Reef, Borkum-Riffgrund, Doggerbank and Eastern German Bight are affected. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment, porpoises, seabirds, reefs and sandbanks will be better protected.

The new measures were enacted at the suggestion of the federal government. Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) emphasized that the North Sea was not in a good condition. With the new restrictions one can “contribute to the preservation of sensitive species and habitats in the sea”. Fisheries Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens) spoke of a “good compromise between better marine conservation and the concerns of the industry”.

Certain commercial fishing techniques are now banned or limited in time in parts of the affected areas. According to the notification, there are rules for the use of gillnets and entangling nets as well as for mobile, bottom-contact fishing gear. Fishing is completely banned on the Amrumbank, a sandbank in the Sylt Outer Reef marine reserve.

BUND: “Fishing methods destroy entire habitats”

This area is one of “the most important reproduction and rearing areas for harbor porpoises and serves as a feeding, wintering, moulting, transit and resting area for many seabird species”. At the same time, the EU Commission also adopted measures in Dutch marine protection areas.

BUND welcomed the new requirements. These restricted “fishing on the seabed in large areas,” it said. “Bottom-contact fishing methods destroy entire habitats through direct contact with the seabed and have long been the subject of criticism.” At the same time, the environmental organization demanded, among other things, that bottom trawling be completely banned in all marine protected areas. “Today the first step was taken for a sea change,” said marine conservation expert Nadja Ziebarth.