On Friday 16 November 2018, the Minister for Environment presented the Danish Parliament with details of a new Executive Order on the exploration and recovery of raw materials from the Sound, within the Danish part of the Baltic Sea. A majority in the Parliament consisting of SF, Enhedslisten, De Radikale and De Konservative are in favor of the proposal.
As of 1 January 2019, no new licences for the extraction of marine sand and gravel from the seabed in the Danish part of The Sound will be issued, pending parliamentary approval. The area of relevance covers a 100 km stretch of coast and sea from the Øresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden to Gilleleje and Kullen. However, sand dredging in the strait, due to licences already granted, will still take place until their expiry date, at the latest in 2025.
The Minister also announced that the area will become a marine protected area and part of Denmark’s obligations under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive to protect marine biodiversity and the resource base upon which marine-related economic and social activities depend.
The Sound, or Øresund, is a unique marine area hosting more than 140 different species of fish as well as clusters of horse mussel beds and haploops communities sensitive to sand dredging. Also, the population of cod in this area is vital for the recruitment of cod in Skagerrak and Kattegat (Jonsson et al. 2016). Since 1932, trawling has been forbidden in the Sound, however, the area has been impacted greatly by other pressures, most notably sand dredging. For this reason, a wide range of NGOs, municipalities and political parties in the Parliament have been fighting side by side for years to put an end to sand dredging and to push for long term protection of The Sound.
Every year, 35 million cubic metres of sand and gravel are extracted in Denmark of which 50 000 comes from the Sound. The Danish Ministry expect existing extraction areas to be able to cover the gap following this closure.