A bountiful and healthy Wadden Sea is an indispensable link in the life cycles of many migratory birds and fish. This is why the Wadden Fund and the three Wadden provinces – Groningen, Friesland and Noord-Holland – strive for the creation of such a rich Wadden Sea. To this end, the Wadden Fund granted a large subsidy to the ‘Wadden Mosaic’ project (Waddenmozaïek) by Natuurmonumenten, the University of Groningen and Royal NIOZ . The aim of the project is to determine the condition of the underwater nature in the Wadden Sea and to test possible remedial measures.
Sand, silt, shells, rocks, mussel beds, sea-grass beds, flat oysters: the Wadden Sea bed comprises a diverse mosaic landscape. There are, however, strong indications that the once varied underwater landscape has become more monotonous, with major consequences for fish and sea-bed dwellers. The Wadden Mosaic project aims to record the variation and biodiversity in the underwater landscape for the very first time. Alongside this, the project also looks at potential control measures for the protection and recovery of the submerged mud bottom, parts which are constantly underwater.
Five sub-projects have been formulated within the entire project. In the first sub-project, researchers from the UG and NIOZ will map the underwater landscape. The other sub-projects include a large-scale practical experiment in which the researchers will test the effectiveness of the control measures, such as the closure of areas for soil-disruptive fishing (UG), the re-introducing of large rocks on the mud bottom (NIOZ) and the recovery of sea-grass beds (RUG) and of oyster and mussel beds (NIOZ). The acquired knowledge will then be put into practice by managers.
The Wadden Mosaic project is part of the overarching ‘Wadden Tools’ project. Four projects fall under this umbrella, oriented around measures regarding underwater diversity, fish migration, migratory and breeding birds. These projects jointly aim to improve the management of the Wadden Sea, making it healthier and more bountiful.