Uncovering governance mechanisms surrounding harbour porpoise conservation in the Danish Skagerrak Sea

Thomas Kirk Sørensen, Lotte Kindt-Larsen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) is the focus of a range of conservation efforts and policies, including the Habitats Directive, aimed at reducing the bycatch of non-target species in gillnet fisheries. This paper describes the governance process and analyses the governance mechanisms and conflicts surrounding ongoing fisheries management planning with a focus on two Natura 2000 sites in the Danish part of the Skagerrak Sea designated to protect harbour porpoises. Responsibility for developing fisheries management for Natura 2000 sites is solely the remit of the fisheries agency, including mechanisms related to stakeholder involvement. This approach fuels the efficiency of the decision making process, while full transparency and/or co-decision becomes less of a given within a ministry for an economic sector compared with the environment ministry. In relation to porpoises, conflicts are driven mainly by the economy and the varying perceptions of the bycatch issue, with great differences between government, NGO's and fishers. Interviews with fishers and fishing effort data reveal intra-sectoral conflicts pertaining to the incompatibility of active trawling and passive gillnetting in the areas. The paper questions the overall approach to managing the harbour porpoise bycatch issue in light of Natura 2000 and discusses the role of science and its high level of influence in this planning process
Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine Policy
Pages (from-to)318-324
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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