Concept for the Regulation of Fisheries within the National Park "Unteres Odertal" (Lower Oder Valley)

Brandenburg, Germany

Oder floodplain

A typical floodplain landscape along the Oder near Schwedt/Brandenburg


Saving a river valley

The natural riches of the lower Oder Valley have been utilised by man since times immemorial. But it was only in the beginning of last century that large scale water constructions in the Oder River, industrialisation as well as the urban and agricultural development of vast flood plainareas brought about serious threats of the riverine ecology and its unique biotic communities.

Angler garbage

Conflict issue angler garbage

The area therefore drew the attention of nature conservationists as early as 1930. Random conservation measures were followed in 1980 by the protection of 5,400 ha river and flood plains as wetlands according to the Ramsar convention and their inclusion in the so called Gewässerrandstreifenprogramm (water fringes programme) of the federal government, in 1992. At about the same time began the establishment of a cross border "German-Polish International Park" and, by 1995, the foundation of the National Park "Unteres Odertal" (Lower Oder Valley).

Fisheries under siege

The German part of the national park stretches over about 60 km along the German-Polish boundary and covers an area of some 10,500 ha. From the year 2010 onwards half of this area will be receiving a status of total protection by entirely banning any form of land use while the utilisation of the remainders shall be strictly guided by conservation objectives. The planned regulations affect land ownership and land use rights of a several thousand people, especially farmers and fishers, who wage a bitter struggle against the ensuing prohibitions and regulations.

Consent-oriented solutions

Among the traditional land users of the designated national park area are the commercial and recreational fisheries of about 1,400 ha of river, channels and backwaters. Once economically flourishing and among the most productive in Germany the fisheries today has lost on importance but still plays a substantial role in the social, cultural and economic context of the locality. In order to attain local acceptance, and thus sustenance, of the national park and the associated projects the government of Brandenburg endeavours to seek a balance between the conflicting interests by way of participatory planning.

The Process

analysis of fisheries

analysis of the landscape of interests


First workshop

tentative concept of goals and measures for commercial fisheries

Second Workshop

preliminary concept of goals and measures for the recreation of fisheries

Third Workshop

joint elaboration of specifically consent-oriented measures

Fourth Workshop

fisheries concept and documentation of the planning process


The project "Co-operative Planning of a Fisheries Concept"

The fisheries of the national park will be regulated by a specific legislation that is based on a fisheries concept produced in 1999 by the consulting team COFAD/Froelich & Sporbeck for the Brandenburgische Landesanstalt für Großschutzgebiete, Eberswalde (Brandenburg State Department for Large Conservation Areas). The concept represents the results of a co-operative planning process, which was undertaken under inclusion of all persons and institutions concerned and by following a two-pronged approach of sequential studies and moderated planning:


A) Analysis

The studies were aiming at preparing a scientific and technical basis for discussions, negotiations and decision making in the course of four cyclic workshops. They entailed the economic, socio-economic, ecological and social analysis of the fisheries in the national park area on the grounds of which it became possible, among others, to

  • assess the social and economic consequences of the conservation project on the commercial and recreational fisheries and
  • identify the existing and potential conflicts between the present forms and pattern of the fisheries and the specific conservation objectives of the national park.

In a second step preliminary objectives were drawn from this analysis and, in dialogue between all stake holders, put on concrete terms. The process was guided by the mutual understanding that the fisheries should continue to exist as far as compatible with conservation objectives, and that, where not, the termination should be effected in a gradual way, considering the individual circumstances of the affected people. The IUCN-management guidelines for conservation areas in middle Europe were duly observed in this respect. In a third step measures were tentatively formulated for the adjustment of the remaining fisheries to the goals of the national park as well as for the settlement of negative impacts on the fisheries. The various measures and alternatives were then jointly discussed during the workshops and further refined towards a consensus.


B) Moderation and mediation

In the course of the four moderated workshops the different interest groups took part in the definition of goals and measures for the future fisheries in the national park. Main task of the moderators was to structure the participatory processes and to strengthen the dialogue between the actors. The complex and often emotionally amplified problems as seen from the differing angles of the disputing parties were thus largely objectified, views, fears and facts communicated and documented. Solutions were finally found for a substantial part of the problems while an overall consensus relating to the termination of fisheries in the chore zone of the national park was not achieved.
The contribution of the consultants ended in July 1999 with the submission of the fisheries study and the documentation of workshops. The co-operative planning however continued under the new Brandenburg State Ministry for Agriculture, Environmental Protection and Regional Planning (Brandenburgisches Ministerium für Landwirtschaft, Umweltschutz und Raumordnung).