Wadden Fund supports Swimway Wadden Sea project

Published on
July 2, 2019

The Wadden Tools - Swimway Wadden Sea project can start thanks to a contribution from the Wadden Fund. This was announced by the Wadden Fund last Friday. The aim of the project is to find out with which management measures the declining fish stocks in the Wadden Sea can be restored. Wageningen Marine Research is one of the knowledge partners.

Ingrid Tulp, who is involved in the project as a scientific coordinator at Wageningen Marine Research, considers it a wonderful opportunity to take a plunge to better understand the underwater world of the Wadden Sea. "We have been measuring once a year how much fish there is in the Wadden Sea for almost 50 years, but that does not mean we can explain the major identified changes. This requires more in-depth research into the causal relationships. In addition, we know virtually nothing about how the larger species such as sea bass, hardener and sharks and the schooling fish, which are the staple food for birds and marine mammals, use the Wadden Sea.This project offers an excellent opportunity to use our expertise for this unique area, which may have world heritage status, but where much can still be learned about fish," says Tulp.

From flyway to swimway

The nature policy and management of the Wadden Sea has until now mainly focused on birds. As a result, a great deal of knowledge has been acquired about migratory routes and the function of the Wadden Sea regarding which species and when. This flyway approach is called a life cycle approach. What we know is that the Wadden Sea - just like for migratory birds - is an important junction for fish. The Wadden tools - Swimway Wadden Sea project will show the contribution of existing and future measures for good fish management in the Wadden Sea in a similar way to migratory birds.

By implementing pilots, it will be explored how the Wadden Sea function for fish species can be strengthened with governance measures. In addition, we will map which nature conservation and sustainability measures from the past have had a positive effect on the nursery and switching function of the Wadden Sea for fish. With that knowledge in hand, we can work purposefully towards a more sizable fish stock in the Wadden Sea.

Broad support

The Wadden Fund supports the Wadden tools - Swimway Wadden Sea project with a contribution of 3.6 million euros. Earlier already, the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (0.6 million euros), Rijkswaterstaat Noord Nederland (0.25 million euros) and the three Wadden Sea Provinces (0.23 million euros) promised their financial support.

Three knowledge institutes work closely together within the Wadden tools - Swimway Wadden Sea project: the University of Groningen, the NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research and Wageningen Marine Research. The project group also consists of the Waddenvereniging and Sportvisserij Nederland. Various site management (nature) organisations are also involved in the implementation of the project, and cooperation is sought with professional fishermen in the Wadden Sea.