Last week it was announced that the fish population in the Wadden Sea has declined dramatically. At a time when wolves are returning to the country and storks seem to be faring better, this is a painful development – especially because the Wadden Sea is on the World Heritage list.
The conclusions of the research of the fish population in the Wadden Sea are dramatic
Vincent van Assem Senior Advisor Sustainable Banking
The Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research has been monitoring the numbers of fish and fish species in the Wadden Sea for the past fifty years. This institute’s research is unique because of the huge amount of data it produces – information which is now available to the general public for the first time.
Catches down by 90%
The conclusions are dramatic: the Marsdiep measuring station near the island of Texel saw the average catch shrink from 65 kg a day in the 1960s to a mere 5 kg a day in recent years. That’s a decline of over 90%! The number of fish species has also plummeted, with the eel, salmon and plaice populations practically vanishing from the Wadden Sea. A tiny bright spot is the emergence of new fish species, such as the sea bass.
The cause is anybody’s guess
The Wadden Sea is a unique area, with many natural factors influencing this exceptional living environment. Humans play a major role here, too, making it difficult to pinpoint the cause of the dwindling fish population. Researchers say the decline could be caused by overfishing, closing off the IJsselmeer and Lauwerszee from the sea, sand extraction and filling, and rising sea water temperatures.
Knowledge promotes understanding
Fish catching figures are posted daily on the Wadden Sea Fish Monitor. We applaud this effort, as knowledge is the first step towards understanding – and we desperately need to understand what is happening. We are concerned about the imminent exhaustion of natural resources. Not only is the environment deteriorating, but there are also negative social and economic consequences. The catches are much smaller, meaning many fishermen are earning less or even losing their jobs.
There aren’t plenty of fish in the sea
ABN AMRO pursues a strict policy to protect fish populations across the globe, such as requiring clients to obtain membership of the Marine Steward Council. More information is available at our Agriculture page , under Fisheries Guidelines. After all, there aren’t plenty of fish in the sea.