Wadden Sea Conference: balance between economy and ecology
The Dutch Minister for Agriculture Sharon Dijksma has signed a Ministerial Declaration with Denmark and Germany at the trilateral governmental conference on the protection of the Wadden Sea, currently being held in Denmark. The three Wadden Sea countries have made agreements about the development of the Wadden Sea, sustainable tourism and fisheries, preservation of biodiversity and the protection of migratory birds.
For the Netherlands the balance between economy and ecology is the main issue in the Ministerial Declaration. The three countries agree that professional fishermen in the international Wadden Sea must adhere to the same conditions regarding nature conservation and fisheries. This means that the decision how, where and when fishery operations may take place will be harmonised during the Dutch presidency so a level playing field will be created for the fisheries sector. Another agreement is that the number of ports with LNG facilities around the Wadden Sea will be extended. LNG is a gas that can be used as a cleaner fuel for shipping, substantially reducing the impact on the environment. In addition there has been a call for more green Wadden Sea ports. These are ports that ensure as little pollution as possible will end up in the Wadden Sea. There already are several ports with a special green label, such as Groningen Seaports, and this number should be increased.
“We have made good agreements on the development of sustainable tourism and fisheries, and for nature conservation,” the Minister said. “These agreements now have to be put into practice. The Wadden Sea is a unique and valuable area that requires our full support. This also applies to the people living and working in the area and to the people visiting this region.”
The three countries have also made agreements to promote sustainable tourism around the Wadden Area. The Netherlands alone accounts for around 12 million overnight stays in tourism in the Wadden region annually. Almost twenty parties – including the Royal Dutch Touring Club ANWB, the Wadden provinces, municipalities and nature organisations – will start promoting the World Heritage Site Wadden Sea as a holiday destination. Furthermore it is important to focus on environmentally-friendly public transport to manage tourist flows. There are also plans to set up thematic routes for cyclists and hikers along the Wadden Sea.
The Wadden region is an essential stopover for the 12 million migratory birds flying back and forth from the Arctic areas to Africa. Protection only works if there is cooperation with Africa. Agreements have been made in areas such as the exchange of data regarding these birds. Good data will lead to an effective spending of the money for the protection of the migratory birds. The focus is especially on West-Africa as most Wadden Sea birds overwinter there.