Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea is the largest tidal area in the world and the largest contiguous nature reserve in Western Europe. 

The wildlife in the Wadden Sea is on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. The government wants to protect and develop the wildlife in this region. This means that some activities are no longer permitted. These include activities such as mechanical cockle dredging. Environment-friendly methods of mussel and shrimp collection and ecotourism are being promoted instead.

Protecting the Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea is a unique natural area and the most important region for water fowl in Europe. Marine mammals, such as seals and porpoises, and seabed animals, such as cockles and mussels, also live there.

The wildlife in the Wadden region is protected by regulations such as the Ramsar Convention and European Directives. The dunes of Texel and the island of Schiermonnikoog are designated as national parks.

The region is also on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. Thus, UNESCO underlines the fact that the Wadden Sea deserves to be protected and preserved for future generations.

International cooperation

The Dutch section of the Wadden Sea, together with the sections in Germany and Denmark, form the Wadden region. The three countries in concert try to make power consumption and transport in the region climate-neutral.

This means that no more CO2 is released than the region itself can absorb. The countries also work together to protect migratory birds and marine mammals such as seals and porpoises.

These three countries reached agreement on this during the government conference held in March 2010. The countries hold such a conference once every five years.

Feasibility of goals

Every country in the EU reports every six years about the extent to which the goals from the Framework Directive have been realised. It is now already clear that some measures will not be realised by 2015. This is because:

  • in some cases, more research is needed;
  • land must first be purchased (e.g. for decontamination), which takes time and often also (a lot of) money;
  • in the Coalition Agreement it was agreed that less money would be spent on implementing measures for water quality. The priority is being shifted to water safety and the freshwater supply. 

If a goal is in danger of not being achieved, a country can – under certain conditions – do two things:

  • Extend the period within which that goal must be achieved (to 2021 and then to 2027).
  • Lower the goal, i.e., opting for a lower quality of water.

The Dutch Cabinet has indicated that, for now, it will not make use of the option of lowering the goal. This comes from the Cabinet standpoint on the  ex ante evaluation of WFD of 2008. The option to extend the period has been chosen for 86% of the surface water bodies and 35% of the ground water bodies.

In 2012 it will be worked out how the Netherlands plans to realise the goals from the Framework Directive within the timeframe of the European deadlines. Also in 2012, the progress reports on the river basin management plans to the European Commission will be drafted.

WFD Innovation Programme

There is a good chance that the goals for the regional bodies of water will not be achieved. Despite the planned measures, there is a large margin of uncertainty. To come to additional, cost-effective measures, the WFD Innovation Programme was created. An amount of € 75 million has been made available for some 65 innovative projects aimed at improving the quality of surface water. The projects will run to the end of 2012.

Some of the projects are aimed at innovations in agriculture and at water system measures. Via the Knowledge Must Flow platform and the Water Mosaic platform the national government is committing itself, together with other parties, to publishing and disseminating knowledge. Through this effort, the government seeks to support the following round of WFD regional processes. The plan is for this to start up again in 2013.