Fisheries and nature conservation: Increased protection of Natura 2000 sites in the North Sea

On 8 December 2022, the Commission adopted a set of fisheries conservation measures to strengthen the environmental protection of six Natura 2000 sites and two national marine protected areas (MPAs) in the North Sea.

The new regulation introduces measures for four German (Sylt Outer Reef, Borkum Reef Ground, Dogger Bank and Eastern German Bight) and two Dutch (Cleaver Bank and Frisian Front) Natura 2000 sites, as well as the Frisian Front and Central Oyster Grounds MPAs.

The measures will protect sensitive seabed habitats, such as sandbanks and reefs, from the impact of mobile bottom contacting gears. In addition, they will also contribute to protecting harbour porpoises and six seabird species by reducing their bycatch in gillnets and entangling nets.

The fisheries conservation measures are based on joint recommendations submitted by Germany and the Netherlands and supported by the neighbouring Member States fishing in the area (Belgium, Denmark, France and Sweden), further reinforcing the role of regionalisation in the implementation of the common fisheries policy(CFP).

Reviewed and positively evaluated by the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), the regulation delivers on the European Green Deal and EU’s Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. Furthermore, it contributes to the implementation of the Habitats Directivethe Birds Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

Natura 2000 sites in the German EEZ in the North Sea designated on the basis of the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive.

Next steps

The regulation will now be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU for a two month scrutiny period. It will enter into force after being published in the Official Journal.

Source: European  Commission website