Welcome to SWIMWAY Wadden Sea
Wadden Sea World Heritage
The Wadden Sea is the largest tidal flats system in the world, where natural processes proceed largely undisturbed. The UNESCO World Heritage property extends along the coasts of Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. In the framework of the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation (TWSC), Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands take on the responsibility of preserving this irreplaceable ecosystem for the benefit of present and future generations.
The Wadden Sea ecosystem holds important habitats for fish species - at least at some parts of their life stages. Yet, populations of many fish species in the Wadden Sea have declined in recent decades.
Already in 2010, Danish, Dutch and German fish experts developed conservation objectives for fish - the so-called Trilateral Fish Targets in the Wadden Sea Plan.
Fish experts conduct a regular assessment of the trilateral targets in the Wadden Sea Quality Status Report (QSR). An overarching target for fish conservation in the Wadden Sea was described by authors of the 2017 QSR thematic report on fish:
There should be no human-induced bottlenecks in the Wadden Sea for fish populations or their ecosystem functions (Tulp et al, 2017)
A trilateral Expert Group Swimway (EG-Swimway, former Working Group, WG-Swimway) is working on improving the situation for fish in the Wadden Sea (see organisational structure of Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation). This goal is to be achieved by fostering trilateral collaboration on the implementation of the trilateral fish targets and to provide an overarching SWIMWAY approach as umbrella for initiatives related to achieving the targets according to the Swimway Vision Action Programme.
SWIMWAY Wadden Sea
SWIMWAY Wadden Sea is an overarching approach - an umbrella – for a wide variety of initiatives related to achieving these targets. In 2019, a Trilateral Wadden Sea Swimway Vision Action Programme was published. This Action Programme involves steps to operationalize the Fish Targets by deriving concrete courses of action.
SWIMWAY Wadden Sea is connected to the World Fish Migration Foundation and Global Swimways.
News – latest Swimway stories
International project reveals historical fish assemblages in the Wadden Sea
The trilateral Wadden Sea is a highly dynamic area, providing shelter from predators and rich feeding grounds for a host of fish species. Present long-term data sets used for determining conservation strategies and targets only go back as far as 1960, a period in which the area was already under extensive anthropogenic pressure. To be able to set realistic targets for conservation strategies aimed at pre-defined objectives such as the trilateral fish-targets, additional data is required that go further back in time.
SHIRE partners discuss study results on fish species occurrence in past 500 years
In the past months, a team of experts and students from DTU Aqua (Denmark), the University of Kiel (Germany), Groningen University (Netherlands) and the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (CWSS) worked on the reconstruction of the historical fish assemblage of the Wadden Sea in the project "Systematic review for historical reconstruction of the Wadden Sea fish assemblage – Swimway historical reference" (SHIRE), funded by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV).
Kick-off for SHIRE project on Wadden Sea fish history
What did the fish community in the Wadden Sea look like in historic times? What were the drivers of change? These questions will be addressed in the project "Systematic review for historical reconstruction of the Wadden Sea fish assemblage – Swimway historical reference" (SHIRE), funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV), the Netherlands, conducted from January to July 2022.
Policy statement on the Wadden Sea SWIMWAY approved
In the Leeuwarden Declaration, the Wadden Sea Board (WSB) was instructed to further develop and contribute to implementing the SWIMWAY Vision (at Annex 3 of the Leeuwarden Declaration) as an integrated approach to achieving the Trilateral Fish Targets by investigating, monitoring, managing and communicating topics concerning the ecology of fish of the Wadden Sea Area.
International community celebrates World Fish Migration Day
World Fish Migration Day is a one-day global celebration to create awareness of open rivers and migratory fish celebrates this year on 24 October. This international day of events is coordinated by the World Fish Migration Foundation. On World Fish Migration Day, organizations from around the world coordinate their own event around the common theme of CONNECTING FISH, RIVERS AND PEOPLE.
Inventory of fish monitoring and research programmes in the Wadden Sea published
The report titled "Trilateral Fish Monitoring: Overview of monitoring and research for SWIMWAY" presents an inventory of monitoring and long-term research programmes that include marine and estuarine fish in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. It focuses on the Wadden Sea tidal flats, gullies (tidal inlets and streams) as well as subtidal marine areas and estuaries bordering the Wadden Sea.
Call for submissions to the Fish Migration Award
The World Fish Migration Foundation partners with Wildlife Forever to promote aquatic conservation through art by collaborating on their State-Fish Art contest. As a part of the contest, the organisers created the international Fish Migration Award with Jeremy Wade as ambassador. Children ages 5-18 can submit their wonderful illustrations and the winners will be announced on World Fish Migration Day (May 16, 2020). This global competition is an opportunity for young children to connect to one another and show how their Love Flows for migratory fishes.
Hamburg hosts first international Swimway conference on migrating fish
What are the drivers of fish populations that utilize coastal marine environments during their life cycle? What are potential bottlenecks? And do current management measures reduce those risks effectively? Those are among the central questions the first international Swimway conference focused on. On 24-26 September 2019 in Hamburg, Germany, about 90 scientists, managers, policymakers, NGOs and other stakeholders concerned with fish in coastal areas participated in the event and seized this as a forum to explore opportunities for cooperation and protection of migrating fish.
Waddentools - Swimway Waddenzee granted
The Wadden Sea is home to a large number of fish species, but in recent decades populations have steeply declined. The shallow area provides shelter, food, spawning or living habitat in at least one of the life stages of these fish species. Similar to the crossroads function for birds (compare Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative), the Wadden Sea forms a junction along the life trajectories of fish. Yet, compared to birds in the Wadden Sea, fish are less well studied and received far less research attention.