Understanding phytoplankton concentrations in the German-Dutch Wadden Sea

Eutrophication, an environmental concern marked by excessive growth of algae and plants due to nutrient-rich conditions, poses a threat to the biodiversity of coastal waters across many European regions. A key indicator of this issue is the presence of phytoplankton.

This project aimed to study phytoplankton concentrations at greater depths to determine exactly how much was present in the Wadden Sea. The findings have enhanced our understanding of eutrophication in the area. A solid grasp of eutrophication in the Wadden Sea is vital as it can have a range of negative effects. These include biodiversity loss, unpleasant odours and poor water quality.

A joint German-Dutch environmental endeavour

The project has significantly advanced our understanding of phytoplankton levels in the Wadden Sea, leading to a notable improvement in the comparability of research results between  the Netherlands and Germany. This has laid a solid foundation for developing more effective strategies to tackle the problem of eutrophication in the Wadden Sea.

Indeed, the project has led to closer cooperation between German and Dutch government agencies and research institutes. These partnerships are paving the way for knowledge sharing, cohesive policymaking and joint efforts for combating nutrient enrichment in the area. This collaborative approach is important in addressing the complex environmental challenges faced in the Wadden Sea.

Central to these efforts is Rijkswaterstaat. It plays a pivotal role as the manager of water quality and nature values in the Wadden Sea. One of its responsibilities is the development and achievement of water quality objectives, including monitoring phytoplankton. 

More broadly, Rijkswaterstaat’s leadership and coordination bring together various stakeholders and resources, ensuring that the strategies and actions are effective in preserving the ecological balance of the Wadden Sea.

Project period

5-2019 - 10-2022

European programme

INTERREG Deutschland-Nederland


NLWKN - Betriebsstelle Brake-Oldenburg, Helmholtz-Institut für Funktionelle Marine Biodiversität (HIFMB), Universität Hamburg, Rijkswaterstaat, Deltares