Before the Dutch government can create protected conservation sites in the North Sea, a whole raft of tasks has to be completed.
Countless questions must be answered and choices must be made: which marine sites do we want to protect and why exactly? On which biotic communities, marine mammals, fishes or birds shall we focus? What should such protection policies look like in practice and how will we monitor whether the protection is actually having an effect?
We use the North Sea in very many ways, and the sector that is Dutch territory is no exception. Countless ships from any number of countries pass through the North Sea. We catch fish from its waters. We extract oil and gas from its seabed. In that seabed we lay pipelines and telephone and data cables. All these various forms of use have to be considered when a protected conservation site is created. Which interest groups or stakeholders exist and who should be involved in the decision-making about these sites? And what scientific information do we need for our decisions?
There is also the question of which Dutch laws and regulations will need to be made or amended. And with which parts of European legislation and regulations can we or must we ensure consistency. All these questions arise when policy needs to be made for protected conservation sites in the North Sea.