Marine protected areas are often designated in areas which represent important or historic fishing grounds. Within the European Union, the Natura 2000 (N2000) network of nature protection areas consists of Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas designated under the Habitats Directive and Birds Directive, respectively. In Denmark, an ecosystem-based approach to the management of bivalve fisheries has been implemented in a number of these N2000 areas, ensuring the sustainability of these fisheries and the conservation status of the designated areas. Here, we outline the key management strategies which have been implemented in the N2000 areas under the Danish Mussel Policy. These include the mandatory enforcement of monitoring systems on fishing vessels, acceptance of a maximum 15% cumulative fishery impact to specific ecosystem components, and a remarkable research effort to provide high resolution spatial habitat mapping. Additional strategies such as depth-based spatial restrictions, regulation enforcements, detailed assessments of fisheries impact, and documentation of positive effects of the ecosystem-based approach are also outlined. The results and lessons learnt outlined here are expected to be relevant to those concerned with the management and sustainability of fisheries activities in marine protected areas.
- Habitat mapping
- Mussel and oyster policy (MOP)
- Shellfish fishery
- Sustainable fishery management
- Natura 2000 site
- Special areas of conservation (SAC)