Executive Summary
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THEME 2 Risk Management along Rivers and Coasts

Harmonised River Basins Strategies North Sea
Project Aim

The aim of the HARBASINS project was to enhance the compatibility of management strategies and international cooperation for the North Sea's coastal waters, estuaries and river basins. The focus has been on harmonisation of the EU Water Framework Directive and the international cooperation on integrated management of estuaries and coastal waters in the North Sea Region, ultimately leading to ecosystem restoration and compatible instruments which ensure sound environmental management of interconnected coastal zones in the North Sea.

Project implementation and results

Technical products of the HARBASINS project on hydromorphological models have influenced Water Framework Directive prescribed denomination for some German estuaries changing them from Heavily Modified to Moderately Modified. This has caused an enormous present day and future cost reduction for the German River Basin Water Management.

HARBASINS has also developed and refined evaluation tools, such as a Fish-index for estuaries, Environmental Integrative Indicators and the criteria for a harmonized assessment of Heavily Modified Water Bodies in transitional waters using morphodynamic models.

Innovative solutions
The most important innovative aspect of the project was the use of the “ecosystem approach” for the management of estuaries. In addition, the recommendation to investigate “historical waterdat and maps” from 1600 onwards in preparation of the denomination of coastal waters by Water Framework Directive standards can be considered as an innovation.

Joint transnational strategy

Mode of cooperation
The steps towards a harmonised transnational management strategy for coastal and transitional waters have been addressed to policy-makers, managers and scientists, each of whom have had their own concerns and responsibilities within this on-going harmonisation. For instance, the experience gained during the HARBASINS project, especially on estuarine habitat restoration, will be taken up for the further development of the Wadden Sea 2008 - 2010.

HARBASINS has underlined that the Ecosystem Approach is the most appropriate way to integrate ecology, economy and society demands for a specific management area, such as estuaries or larger coastal ecosystems like the Wadden Sea. In addition, the project has decided to use the existing Ecosystem Approach in the Scheldt and Humber estuaries as a best practice.

Impact of the project

Long-term achievements and policy shaping
An important impact of the HARBASINS project was the importance to exchange results and to further synchronize where possible the reporting frequency and reporting years of other organisations and networks. For instance, OSPAR publishes on the results of eutrophication in a five-year cycle (2003, 2008 and so on) and in a ten-year cycle for the so-called overall Quality Status Report (2000, 2010 and so on) whereas Water Framework Directive will report in a six-year cycle on River basin Management plans.

The HARBASINS project will make sure to follow-up on these activities and reports, and thereby making sure that the project will be supporting the future process of harmonization.

International cooperation on integrated management of estuaries and coastal waters


Instituut voor Bosbouw en Wildbeheer / Institute for Forestry and Game Management, BE   
Niedersächsisches Landesamt für Ökologie-Forschungsstelle Küste / Coastal Research Station Niedersachsen, DE
Common Wadden Sea Secretariat, CWSS, DE   
Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, Directorate-General of Public Works and Water Management Rijkswaterstaat Noord-Nederland, NL
Institute of Estuarine & Coastal Studies (IECS), University of Hull, UK

National Institute for Coastal and Marine Management/ RIKZ

Project Manager

Frank Zijp
National Institute for Coastal and Marine Management/ RIKZ Kortenaerkade 1
P.O. Box 20907 NL-2500 EX The Hague
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 70 311 4495

Measure: 4.1

Start Date: 30 November 2004
End Date: 30 June 2008

ERDF Grant:
Total Eligible Sum:
The North Sea
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