Aarhus Universitets segl

No. 403: Regional marine planning in the western Kattegat - natural, business and social conditions and scenarios

Riemann B, Abay AT, Ankjærø, T, Bruhn A, Dahl K, Galatius A, Göke C, Hasler B, Jimenez ER, Kaae BC, Olafsson AS, Petersen IK, Rasmussen MB, Termansen M & Zandersen M. 2020. Regional havplan-lægning i det vestlige Kattegat – natur-, erhvervs- og samfundsmæssige forhold og scenarier. Aarhus Universitet, DCE – Nationalt Center for Miljø og Energi, 136 s. - Videnskabelig rapport nr. 403. https://dce2.au.dk/pub/SR403.pdf


The national EU member states in Europe are obliged to develop plans for a sustainable development of their marine areas according to EU directive from 2014 on maritime physical planning. The plans are to be submitted to The EU- Commission no later than March 2021. The plans must embrace the subjects  sustainable developments for industries, social activities (tourism and recreation) and the environment.

In Denmark, the implementation of the EU-directive will be carried out according to Danish Law no. 615 from 08/06/2016 on maritime physical planning. A draft of the Danish maritime plan is expected by 2021, and there will subsequently be a six months public hearing of the draft.

Nine coastal municipalities in eastern Jutland (Mariagerfjord, Randers, Aarhus, Horsens, Hedensted, Norddjurs, Syddjurs, Odder and Samsø) have decided to submit a united response to the hearing. The enclosed report represents a knowledge driven approach for a maritime plan for the Western Kattegat. The report describes physical, chemical, and biological conditions in the project area, which includes an area of 7.573 km2 in the Western Kattegat and the Northern part of the Belt Sea as well as four scenarios describing sustainable plans for industries, social activities and environmental conditions. The industries include sea transport, wind energy, extraction of raw material, fishery and aquaculture, and tourism. The social activities include recreation and sailing activities.

There is a significant sea transport of both large ships and pleasure boats in the project area. Large areas with windmills are under development and extraction of raw materials from the sea bottom, fishery and aquacultures primarily production of fish are important in the project area. Tourism and re-creative activities are of central importance for job creation and economy. The quality of the sea environment is moderate to bad according to the Water Framework Directive, and the quality is primarily regulated by nutrients, climate change, fishing, aquaculture production of fish, toxic compounds and extraction of raw materials.

Fishing includes trawling after cod, flatfish and langoustine. The fishery has been decreasing because of overfishing, particularly the cod population has suffered. Fishing for langoustine, south and east of Anholt, is the most profitable fishery in the project area. There are several aquaculture plants along the coast in the project area.

Despite the moderate environmental quality, there are still areas with a variety of nature types including stone reefs. In addition, areas with eelgrass and seaweeds are commonly found. The bottom fauna include habitats with blue mussel and horse mussel. Harbour porpoise, harbor seal, common scoter, velvet scoter, red-throated diver and common eider occur frequently.

Coastal tourism and recreation are important economies in the project area, and the coastal tourism generates 2.7 billion DKK annually. The development of the sector has been stable over the past 10 years. Further development is expected within the service and experience economy. It requires, however, the development of a plan with focus on e.g., learning, establishment of multifunctional plants and communication.

Four different scenarios were produced representing sustainable developments for industries, social activities and environmental conditions. Each of the four scenarios showedvarious routes of development and their coupled conflicts and possibilities to utilize, distribute and prioritize the activities in the Western Kattegat area. The scenarios contain assumptions, areas with conflicts, possibilities for coexistence, concrete activities and consequences of these concrete activities. The four scenarios are as follows: 1) industries first, 2) nature first, 3) multifunctionality, and 4) separation of functions.

In the first two scenarios, the industries and the environmental quality were prioritized, respectively. In the last two scenarios, there is a balanced view on growth of industries and a sustainable environment. In scenario three, a multifunctional utilization of the maritime area was recommended, and in scenario four, a separation, with industries in some areas and nature conservation and protection in other areas, was recommended.

In the first scenario, a positive development was prioritized for fishery, aquaculture, extraction of raw materials, wind energy, tourism and recreation, and the environmental quality is assumed, by the authorities, to be regulated by the demands of the third generation water plans according to the water framework directive. In the scenario two, nature first, a reference area is established as well as a large and a smaller “marine protected area” to improve biodiversity and environmental quality. The expected improvements in the environmental quality will sustain further growth in tourism and recreation, which currently is the largest sector in terms of job creation and economy in the coastal areas around Denmark.

In the last two scenarios, there is a balance between the maritime industries and the environmental activities. In scenario three, there is a multifunctional utilization of the sea areas together with improvements of the environmental quality by establishment of protected areas to improve biodiversity, the inte-grity of the sea bottom and the environmental quality. In scenario four, the project sea area was divided into an area with industrial production and in protected areas designed for improvements of biodiversity and the environmental quality.

  The future utilization of the maritime areas in the Western part of Kattegat may follow different directions. Whatever the choice of activities in the national plan, the decision has consequences for the society. In the end, the decision is a political one, and the responsibility lies with the Danish Government.