Sylt Outer Reef - Eastern German Bight

The Sylter outer reef covers an area of about 5314 km2 in the southern North Sea (BfN, 2008a; Sell et al., 2011)⁠. The marine protected area overlaps with another protected area the "Eastern German Bight", which falls under the birds directive, mainly due to the abundance of red and black-throated loons in this area (Sell et al., 2011)⁠. The Sylter outer reef is characterized by a high diversity of sediment and habitat structures. The western edge of the Sylter outer reef is the flank of the Elbe glacial valley. Coarse sand and gravel surfaces often protrude through the sand layer, as do individual stones and reefs. In the south-east one of the largest sandbanks in the German EEZ is located, the Amrumbank.  

The two dominant habitat types at the Sylter outer reef are sandbanks and reef structures. The sandbank habitat is dominated by the Amrumbank. Here, typical sandbank communities inhabit the sediment, such as the Goniadella-Spisula community (BfN, 2008a)⁠. The Amrumbank also has an important interrelationship with the Macoma-balthica community from the Wadden Sea. This makes the Amrumbank communities unique in the German EEZ. The reef structures on the Sylt outer reef are characterized by large, contiguous moraine ridges and relic sediments (BfN, 2008; Sell et al., 2011). There are stone fields that protrude through the seabed in the central area of the Amrumbank and also contiguous, ribbon-like stone fields along the flanks of the Elbe glacial valley. Adding to the habitat complexity, scattered boulder fields are also characteristic for the seabed at the Sylter outer reef. Frequent sightings of harbour porpoises at the Sylter outer reef indicate the biggest resident population and highlight ts importance as a rearing and breeding ground, which has an enormous ecological relevance within the German EEZ (Sell et al., 2011)⁠. 

The fishing pressure within the area of the Sylter outer reef varies. While the boulder fields and reef areas stay mostly untouched by fisheries, the eastern part is strongly influenced by fishing impacts. especially the Amrumbank is frequently being fished, where in some areas sensitive benthic communities have been strongly reduced (Sell et al., 2011)⁠. The fishery exclusion would therefore not only benefit fish populations, but could also lead to the recovery of benthic communities.   


BfN. Erhaltungsziele für das FFH-Gebiet „Sylter Außenriff “ ( DE 1209-301 ) in der deutschen AWZ der Nordsee2008a:1–22.

BfN. Erhaltungsziele für das FFH-Gebiet „Doggerbank“(DE 1003-301) in der deutschen AWZ der Nordsee 2008b:1–11.

BfN. Erhaltungsziele für das FFH-Gebiet „Borkum-Riffgrund“ (DE 2104-301) in der deutschen AWZ der Nordsee 2008c:1–19.

Sell A, Pusch C, von Dorrien C, Krause J, Schulze T, Carstensen D. Maßnahmenvorschläge für das Fischereimanagement in Natura 2000-Gebieten der deutschen AWZ der Nord- und Ostsee. 2011