nachhaltige Nutzung: Windradpark auf dem Ozean bei klarem Himmel und ruhiger See

Protection and sustainable Use of the Oceans

A Research Mission of the DAM

Oceans provide food, energy and raw materials, they are important transport routes and popular tourist destinations. The so-called “blue economy” is one of the fastest-growing economic sectors worldwide. However, climate change, pollution and overuse of ecosystems are increasingly creating problems for coasts, seas and oceans. The effects of different uses can compound each other, along with plastic waste, munitions dumping, pollution and nutrient loading, sea-level rise, warming and ocean acidification. These effects can lead to significant changes in ecosystems and have serious ecological and social consequences.

In the research mission “Protection and Sustainable Use of Marine Areas” of the German Alliance for Marine Research, more than 250 researchers in seven research networks are investigating the ecological, economic and social impacts of the use and pollution of various marine regions. The focus is, for example, on options for sustainable fisheries, ammunition dumps in the North Sea and Baltic Sea and the central question of how different utilisation interests, such as fisheries, wind power generation or tourism, can be reconciled with the effective protection of biodiversity. The aim of the research mission is to develop options for a sustainable use of marine resources in the German North and Baltic Sea.

The aim of the research mission is to develop options for sustainable use of marine resources and ecosystem services in the German North Sea and Baltic Sea and to achieve a good environmental status. In the research mission, various scientific disciplines and experts from the field work closely together to provide society and decision-makers in politics, industry and authorities with scientifically sound advice and socially reflected options for use and protection concepts. The research mission focuses on three thematic areas:

  • Concepts to reduce the impacts of man-made pressures and uses on marine ecosystems and biodiversity
  • Concepts for the prevention of marine pollution
  • Model-based investigation of future use scenarios and analysis of possible management options
Sustainable use of marine areas: Starfish on an bed of blue mussels
Mussels filter seawater and have a key ecological function in the sea; at the same time, they are cultivated for human consumption. Protection concepts and sustainable use should ensure intact marine ecosystems and secure food resources for future needs. | Picture: Dirk Schories


The research mission aims to analyse and classify the use of and pressures on marine spaces in such a way that a scientifically sound basis is created for decisions by politics, authorities and the economy. A broad-based transdisciplinary research approach is chosen. The provision of concrete options for action and the consistent implementation of measures for knowledge transfer and data provision are intended to ensure the subsequent use of the results in politics and society. In this way, the DAM is fulfilling its mandate to develop science-based decision-making options for sustainable management of the coasts, seas and oceans.

“Protection and sustainable use of marine areas“
Short title: sustainMare

Prof. Dr. Corinna Schrum
Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon
Prof. Dr. Karen H. Wiltshire
Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research

Kai Hoppe (Coordinator)
Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon

Project partners


  • Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research
  • Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg
  • Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel
  • German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS)
  • German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research
  • Research and Technology Centre, West Coast (CAU Kiel)
  • GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel
  • Global Climate Forum
  • Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz University Hannover
  • Helmholtz Centre Hereon GmbH
  • Humboldt University Berlin
  • Government-Owned Company for Coastal Protection, National Parks and Ocean Protection Schleswig Holstein
  • Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research
  • Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde
  • Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional
  • Max Planck In­sti­tute for Mar­ine Mi­cro­bi­o­logy
  • Senckenberg by the Sea
  • Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute
  • University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover
  • Technische Universität Braunschweig
  • Hamburg University of Technology
  • German Environment Agency
  • Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ
  • University of Greifswald
  • University of Hamburg
  • University of Osnabrück
  • University of Rostock
  • University Medical Center Schleswig Holstein (CAU Kiel)

Pilot missionS

As part of the research mission “Protection and sustainable use of marine areas”, two pilot missions have been running since March 2020, offering a unique opportunity to investigate the effects of excluding bottom trawling in marine protected areas in the North Sea and Baltic Sea… more

Sustainable use of marine areas: Krabbenfischen für die Forschung
Fishing shrimp for research | Photo: Alfred Wegener Institute / S. Löschke


In addition to the two pilot missions, the research mission includes five research networks that comprehensively address conflicts of use and protection in marine and coastal areas. iSEAL, SpaCeParti and CREATE address topic area 1 in different research regions. The CONMAR project addresses thematic area 2 and the CoastalFutures project thematic area 3.

  • selected coastal regions in the North Sea and Baltic Sea
  • Living Labs in Eckernförder Bucht, Sylt Outer Reef and Borkum Riffgrund
  • Resolution of conflicts of use and sustainable protection of biodiversity
  • Western Baltic Sea
  • Living Labs in Stein-Wendtorf and Greifswalder Bodden
  • Structural change in coastal fisheries, sustainable fisheries taking into account the protection of exploitation interests
  • North Sea Wadden Sea
  • Living Labs Wadden Sea National Parks of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein
  • Assessment of the impact of multiple stressors on biodiversity, functionality and trophic interactions
  • North Sea and Baltic Sea
  • Focus on munitions; local, German coastal waters
  • Prioritisation of munitions-contaminated areas, co-design, co-development and co-evaluation together with stakeholders
  • Development of holistic modelling tools as management support
  • Impacts of climate change, land use and protection concepts in the entire region of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea
  • Addresses the management sectors of energy, fisheries, agriculture and sediment management
  • Establishes transdisciplinary dialogue forums to develop a common understanding with stakeholders
  • Development and evaluation of future scenarios and protection concepts together with authorities and stakeholders
“The use of the oceans and coasts will intensify enormously in the coming years and decades, also through measures to adapt and prevent climate change. Assessing the consequences of this socially desired development and creating effective protection concepts for these changing conditions is our goal.”
Sustainable use of marine areas
Photos: Hereon/ S. Billerbeck and I. Frings as well as Ludwig Franzius Institute/ J. Teide; photo montage: Hereon/ S. Hartmann

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The federal government and the governments of the five northern German states support the current development and sponsor the DAM.