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Baltic Sea EEZ


Natura 2000 protected areas in the German Baltic Sea EEZ. Sea floor topography: C. Terstegge
Chart: Natura 2000 protected areas in the German Baltic Sea EEZ. Sea floor topography: C. Terstegge

In the late 1990s, major German marine research institutes stepped up their exploration of ecologically valuable offshore sites in the Baltic Sea. Until then, the deep sea marine world with its little-known, richly coloured flora and fauna had remained largely hidden from view. The research showed many species and their habitats to be rare or threatened and in need of special protection.

Nomination of protected areas in the Baltic Sea

Male long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis). Photo: M. Hauswirth (BfN)
Photo: Male long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis). Photo: M. Hauswirth (BfN)
Mussel beds. Photo: Hübner/Krause (BfN)
Photo: Mussel beds. Photo: Hübner/Krause (BfN)

After the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation and the Federal Environment Ministry had appraised all the research findings, Germany nominated one site under the Birds Directive and five sites under the Habitats Directive to the EU in May 2004. The Pomeranian Bay has been a nature conservation area under German law and a Special Protected Area (SPA) under the EU Birds Directive since September 2005. The EU recognised the five sites under the Habitats Directive – Fehmarn Belt, Kadet Trench, Adler Ground, Western Rønne Bank and Odra Bank – as Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) in November 2007. Their designation took legal effect on publication in January 2008.


Goldsinny (Ctenolabrus rupestris) seeking shelter. Photo: Hübner/Krause (BfN)
Photo: Goldsinny (Ctenolabrus rupestris) seeking shelter. Photo: Hübner/Krause (BfN)

 

The marine straits of Fehmarn Belt and the Kadet Trench, the reefs and mussel banks of the Adler Ground and Rønne Bank and the sands of Odra Bank are home to ecological communities that are made up very differently from those of the North Sea reefs and sandbanks. The Baltic Sea areas offer shelter and sufficient food for many threatened small organisms, fish and marine mammal species. Of major importance are the large quantities of red algae and kelp, in some areas down to depths of 20 metres. These are unusual for the southern Baltic Sea and indicate good light and oxygen levels. Internationally notable concentrations of sea birds, and especially sea ducks such as long-tailed duck, spend the winter in what for them are irreplaceable feeding grounds in the Pomeranian Bay.


Serrated wrack (Fucus serratus) on inshore reefs. Photo: Hübner/Krause (BfN)
Photo: Serrated wrack (Fucus serratus) on inshore reefs. Photo: Hübner/Krause (BfN)
Periwinkle (Littorina sp.) and sugar kelp (Laminaria saccharina). Photo: Hübner/Krause (BfN)
Photo: Periwinkle (Littorina sp.) and sugar kelp (Laminaria saccharina). Photo: Hübner/Krause (BfN)

 

As part of the Natura 2000 network, the Baltic Sea protected areas safeguard population interchange and migration, notably between the eastern Baltic Sea and the Danish Belt Sea and Kattegat, but also with protected areas nearer to the shore. These include valuable habitats around the island of Rügen and the Darss peninsula, plus the Jasmund and West Pomeranian Bodden national parks. Some 70 percent of the water exchange between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea takes place through the straits of Fehmarn Belt and the Kadet Trench. These areas are consequently of key importance ecologically with regard to oxygen and salinity levels in the entire Baltic Sea.


Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena). Photo: K. Wollny-Goerke
Photo: Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena). Photo: K. Wollny-Goerke

Natura 2000 sites in the German Baltic Sea EEZ:

 

Fehmarn Belt

Fehmarn Belt

Kadet Trench

Adler Ground

Western Rønne Bank

Odra Bank

Pomeranian Bay

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