Germany: 38% of marine waters proposed as MPAs

More than one third of Germany’s total marine area could consist of MPAs under a national plan to designate 10 sites in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as protected areas. Designed in part to bring Germany into compliance with the EU Birds and Habitats Directives, the plan would raise the protected percentage of all of Germany’s marine waters (its EEZ and territorial sea combined) to 38 percent. Germany nominated the 10 sites – located in the Baltic Sea and North Sea – to the European Commission in May.

Two of the sites, designed specifically to protect birds, took effect immediately upon nomination. The remaining eight sites – protecting fauna, flora and/or habitats – must be approved by the European Commission, a process that could take “a couple of years”, says Henning von Nordheim, head of marine and coastal nature conservation for the German federal agency for nature conservation. Germany will set regulations for each site as Commission approval comes.

The EU Birds and Habitats Directives aim to maintain biodiversity through conservation of species and natural habitats, including development of a coherent European ecological network of protected zones – the Natura 2000 network. Germany is also a contracting party to OSPAR (the convention for the protection of the marine environment in the north-east Atlantic) and HELCOM (the Baltic marine environment protection commission), each of which has set a goal to create a network of well-managed MPAs by 2010. Von Nordheim says states within Germany are expected next year to nominate more MPAs within the territorial sea, raising the protected percentage of German waters beyond 40 percent.

For more information: Henning von Nordheim, German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Isle of Vilm, 18581 Putbus/Rugen, Germany. Tel: +49 38301 86 120; E-mail:

UNESCO World Heritage adds new marine sites

Three sites that combine sea and land components are among the newest additions to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Added to the list on 30 June 2004, these new World Heritage sites are:

  • Ilulissat Icefjord, Greenland – sea mouth of one of the world’s fastest-moving glaciers;
  • Wrangel Island Reserve, Russia – an important bird-nesting site, major feeding ground for gray whales, and home to the world’s largest population of Pacific walrus; and
  • Pitons Management Area, St. Lucia (Caribbean) – featuring volcanic spires on land with coral reefs and more than 160 species of finfish in surrounding waters.

Ilulissat Icefjord and Wrangel Island Reserve are the first natural sites in the Arctic to be added to the World Heritage List. For more information on new and pre-existing World Heritage sites, visit