German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Organisation and requirements

Organisational chart of the BLANO working groups
Organisational chart of the BLANO working groups

Organisation of marine monitoring in Germany.

All marine monitoring in Germany was coordinated until 2012 under ARGE BLMP, the Federal Government/Länder working group on the North Sea and Baltic Sea marine environment monitoring programme.

In March 2012, German federal and Länder ministries signed a new Federal/Länder Administrative Agreement on Marine Conservation. The agreement governs cooperation between the Federal Government and the coastal Länder, notably with regard to implementation of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and monitoring.

New structure of committees

The official decision making bodies are the Federal/Länder Committee on the North Sea and Baltic Sea (BLANO) and the Marine Conservation Coordination Board (Kora). BLANO is the top-level decision making body within this cooperation. It assigns the preparation and implementation of its resolutions to Kora. The Chair of Kora rotates among the coastal Länder. Kora assumes management responsibilities for BLANO between BLANO meetings. Its tasks include further elaborating policy and conservation requirements laid down at European, national and regional level.

The structure of the committees and working groups is based on the established structure of the BMLP and is geared to transparent cooperation.

There are currently four cross-cutting working groups:

  • AG ErBeM: Surveying, assessment and measures
  • AG Daten: Data
  • AG QS: Quality assurance
  • AG SozÖk: Socioeconomic issues

The cross-cutting working groups operate independently and under their own responsibility. They are commissioned with work by Kora which they assign on as appropriate to issue-specific working groups. The latter are subordinate to the cross-cutting working groups and comprise federal, Länder and research institution experts. AG ErBeM already has a number of issue-specific working groups.

AG ErBeM is in charge of federal and Länder marine monitoring. It is responsible for:

  • Conceptual and substantive assistance with and final preparation of draft monitoring programmes (under Article 11 MSFD).
  • Coordinating activities for and supporting implementation of national marine monitoring.

Monitoring requirements under European and international law

Germany is required to monitor a range of marine biotic parameters for implementation of European directives and regional agreements.

There are relevant requirements under Articles 11 and 17 of the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) and under Articles 10 and 12 of the Birds Directive (79/409/EEC). There are also detailed requirements for coastal and transitional waters under Articles 5, 8 and 15 of the Water Framework Directive (WFD, Directive 2000/60/EC). The reporting obligations under the Habitats Directive in particular call for comprehensive assessment of the conservation status of the species and habitat types listed in the Directive’s annexes.

The marine conventions applying to German waters – the OSPAR Convention for the North-East Atlantic including the North Sea and the Helsinki Convention for the Baltic Sea – also require intensive monitoring of specific endangered and declining species together with a set of ecological quality objectives (EcoQOs). The Baltic Sea Action Plan adopted with a range of targets in November 2007 creates a need for a comprehensive monitoring programme.

Articles 8 and 11 of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD, 2008/56/EC) in force since June 2008 prescribe broad-based marine monitoring of biological parameters as a basis for assessing environmental status, taking any action needed and measuring the success of such action. The aim of the MSFD is to attain good environmental status (GES) in European marine waters by 2020.

Further requirements for marine biological monitoring follow from the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS) and ministerial declarations of the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation (TWSC).

The Federal Nature Conservation Act (BNatSChG) likewise establishes monitoring as a federal and Länder responsibility.

For further general information on monitoring, see