Natura 2000 sites and fisheries in German offshore waters
The principal objective of sites selected as part of Natura 2000 is to achieve or maintain a favourable conservation status of habitats and species named in the EU Birds and Habitats directives. In the German exclusive economic zone, the habitat types protected by this legislation are sandbanks and reefs; protected species include marine mammals, seabirds, and specific migratory fish species. The ICES project Environmentally Sound Fishery Management in Protected Areas (EMPAS) aims to answer two questions: (i) To what extent do specific fishing activities significantly threaten attainment of the conservation objectives of the Natura 2000 sites? (ii) What management measures would reduce these conflicts and how effective would they be at helping to ensure the favourable condition of these sites? Assessments of fishing impacts on Natura 2000 sites require basic data on the conservation status of individual habitats and species, as well as data for fine-scale distributions of ongoing fishing activities. This paper describes and discusses the process used by the EMPAS project in developing fishery-management plans for each Natura 2000 site in German offshore waters.