© Dr. Andreas Dänhardt


 SWIMWAY conference 

24 – 26 September 2019 / Hamburg, Germany

We are excited to welcome you to the first SWIMWAY conference on understanding connectivity within the life cycles of coastal fish, which takes place at Haus der Patriotischen Gesellschaft in Hamburg, Germany.

During the conference participants enthusiastic about fish in the Wadden Sea and other coasts will gather to present and discuss drivers of fish populations utilizing coastal marine environments during their ontogeny, identifying potential bottlenecks throughout the life cycle and, eventually, evaluating current management measures. Organized by the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation´s SWIMWAY Group in cooperation with the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat, the event welcomes scientists, managers, policy makers, NGOs and other stakeholders concerned with fish in coastal areas to contribute. Exchanging and connecting knowledge and expertise between diverse experts and stakeholders will form a pivotal part of the meeting. Interactive breakout sessions will allow identifying fields of collaboration, expanding and organizing knowledge and ensuring long-term engagement of relevant stakeholders.

The Elsevier Journal “Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science” has been one of the major outlets for research in coastal ecosystems for many years. We are very pleased to announce that contributions made to the SWIMWAY conference in Hamburg will be published as full papers in a Special Issue of ECSS.

Online registration is now open »

Looking forward to seeing you in Hamburg in September!

 Preliminary Programme 


Conference keynote: Of fish and frameworks: Crafting the evidence base for implementing the Leeuwarden Declaration and the Trilateral Research Agenda and contributing to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

Prof. Dr. Karin Lochte

Chair of the Trilateral Wadden Sea Board and managing board of the German Marine Research Alliance (DAM)

 The Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation between The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany considers research on fish as an important issue and, therefore, this theme is anchored in the framework of The Leeuwarden Declaration and is a major part of the Trilateral Monitoring and Assessment Programme. The theme is also part of our Trilateral Research Agenda which needs to be further elaborated in the coming year. The conference can develop ideas and provide input to this Research Agenda. We are in a time when many environmental themes in the marine environment receive increased public attention. Coordinated national research-initiatives in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands in this context would contribute to UNESCO 2021 to 2030 Ocean Research Decade for Sustainable Development. This chance must be used!

Sustainable fish stocks are globally important to safeguard this important protein source for future generations. The research in the Wadden Sea is only a small part of a large picture; it must be embedded in a much wider thematic and international context. When it comes to biological interaction, we need to consider linkages between benthos and plankton, between rivers, coastal areas and offshore sea, between regions along the swim way of fish species and must look at the impacts of climate change. The state of fish stocks in the Wadden Sea is perhaps better known compared to other regions, however, the QSR also indicates problems and much more work needs to be done to improve understanding of fish dynamics, human impacts and conservation measures.

These and other topics will be discussed in this conference, but we should not view this conference as a singular, isolated event. Rather, we should take the chance to make it an initiation for future collaboration. Implementing the SWIMWAY vision and developing it further is an ambitious task that can only be achieved through concerted action at least on a trilateral level, but preferably also by exchanging knowledge, experience and dedication with other research communities. Scientists and research institutions from the three Wadden Sea states and further afield are invited to join forces to improve conservation of the Wadden Sea World Heritage. National funding and EU funding should be combined to support joint proposals. The German Presidency (2018-2021) of the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation supports the development of an international and effective research agenda. 

Keynote session 1: Monitoring and data (Tuesday, 24 Sep, 13.00  16.00)

Prof. Dr. Katja Philippart

NIOZ, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Information and data from long-term monitoring programmes are fundamental for both the structuring of research programmes, as well as for evaluating management measures. The Trilateral Monitoring and Assessment Programme (TMAP) pursues the goal to provide scientific evidence to support decisions on management and policy development for the Wadden Sea. It also provides an evaluation of the progress towards the trilaterally set targets of the Wadden Sea Plan and facilitates the discussion on future priorities. This work is described in the Quality Status Report and plays an important role in the Swimway approach in order to establish research priorities with respect to the Trilateral Fish Targets. This session will both explore how the current monitoring programmes contribute to our understanding of dynamics of Wadden Sea fish stocks in relation to patterns in population variability, and how research can supplement monitoring data to identify ways for effective conservation and management.

Keynote session 2: Fish habitats (Wednesday, 25 Sep, 9.00  12.00) 

Dr. Josianne G. Støttrup

DTU AQUA National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Section for Ecosystem based Marine Management

Certain habitat types fulfil important functions in the life cycle of coastal fish. In the course of their development, fish often rely on different habitats, most of which are typical constituents of the habitat mosaic in coastal marine areas. Some may even be essential for fish to close their life cycle. The development of regional maps on essential fish habitats can provide an overview on their distribution and the evaluation of cumulative impacts for use directly in marine spatial planning. One habitat function typical for coastal marine areas is the nursery function. Coastal nurseries can affect demographic rates (births, deaths, immigration, and emigration) of fish at potentially vulnerable stages within the life cycle of a species, e.g. by supporting or inhibiting migration, growth and survival. This session will focus on how demographic rates of fish are linked to habitat conditions in coastal marine areas (species-habitat-relationships) and on the diversity and spatial heterogeneity of natural habitats important or essential for fish to complete their life cycles. This knowledge will help to disentangle the role of habitat use vs. other factors in driving fish population dynamics and to anticipate how habitat changes and impacts from diverse human activities can be taken it into consideration in management decisions

Keynote session 3: Life cycles (Swimways), connectivity and bottlenecks (Wednesday, 25 Sep, 15.00  18.00)

Prof. Dr. Axel Temming 

University of Hamburg, Institute of Marine Ecosystem and Fishery Science

Fish as mobile organisms connect habitats and ecosystems. From the fish perspective, connectivity may be the “Achilles heel” in the life cycle. Species inhabiting coastal marine areas only during part of their life depend on a functioning link with the regions where they spend other parts of their life. Depending on species and developmental stage, these links are provided e.g. through drift with tides or residual currents, or through active migration. Regardless of the transport mechanism, fish may be faced with multiple, sometimes anthropogenic, bottlenecks during their life cycle. This session takes a life-cycle perspective by asking where species and life stages come from, where they go and what kind of environment, including anthropogenic threats, they experience. It focusses on how stage-specific areas and within stage habitats are connected to each other and the role spatial connectivity plays for recruitment variability. For example, diadromous species migrate between rivers and the open sea via coastal marine areas, making them vulnerable to physical bottlenecks on their swimway. At much smaller spatial and temporal scales, different habitat patches make up a habitat mosaic interconnected by movements between them. Knowledge on connectivity on different temporal and spatial scales is key to identify bottlenecks along the swimways of fish and to implement targeted and effective protection measures.

Keynote session 4: Marine Policy (Thursday, 26 Sep, 9.00  12.00)

Prof. Dr. Mike Elliott

University of Hull, Institute of Estuarine and Coastal Studies

Understanding factors affecting life-cycle connectivity is not only a physical or biological issue. In order to ensure that there are enough opportunities for fish populations to develop in the natural environment it is important that there is coherence in management measures and harmonization of policy objectives. Science has an important role in underpinning these aspects. This session will focus on the science that is necessary for successful implementation of European and national policy directives with regards to fish. Attention will also be paid to analyses of current national and international policies and regulations and how these are potentially relevant to achieving the Trilateral Fish Targets. How current management measures improve fish populations will be explored.


Oral and poster presentations are invited on:

  • Scientific research on all aspects of fish population dynamics in coastal areas, connectivity in the life cycle of fish and identifying bottlenecks;
  • Case studies on successful or failed attempts to define, implement and refine quality targets to protect marine and estuarine fish in coastal marine environments;
  • Analyses of current national and international policies and regulations and how these are potentially relevant to achieving the Trilateral Fish Targets;
  • Management strategy evaluations and how current management measures improve fish populations;
  • Collaborative projects with stakeholders, citizen science and cultural heritage.

Abstracts must not exceed 250 words. Please indicate if you want to give an oral or a poster presentation and if you would switch to a poster presentation in case there are no more vacant slots for an oral. Abstracts should be sent via e-mail to the SWIMWAY coordinator Dr. Adi Kellermann: info@kellermann-consultants.de

Submission deadline for abstracts is 31 May 2019. Abstracts will be evaluated before 1 July 2019.

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