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New Sand Mining in Øresund Strait

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In March, Danish and Swedish ‘Øresundfiskere’ sailed to Copenhagen to defend the fishing industry from sand mining in the important spawning areas in the northern part of the Øresund. Photo: News Øresund – Peter Mulvany.

After sand mining in fishing banks in the northern part of the Øresund was criticised, the Danish Nature Agency (Naturstyrelse) has given the go-ahead for the annual mining of almost one million cubic meters of sand from the southern part of the Øresund.

The Nature Agency approved the mining of sand in the Bay of Køge in the southern Strait owing to the need for sand for road construction and development in the greater Copenhagen area. Permission was granted two weeks ago in response to a request by the development company NCC. The approval allows the mining of 950 000 cubic meters of sand annually from the Bay of Køge in the southern Øresund Strait and a total of 4.8 million cubic meters; that’s enough sand to cover Copenhagen’s City Hall Square with a layer of sand 163 meters high.

In a response from the Bay of Køge’s fishermen’s organisation, Køge Bugt Fiskeriforeningen, spokespeople warned against the potential damage to the fish stocks there. The organisation told the Board that the area was a vital fishing area in the past, but is now barren. According to the organisation, the only way to save the fish and flora on the seabed there is to spare the area from sand mining.

Sand mining in Øresund has been criticised by fishers and environmental interest groups alike. In March, Danish ‘Øresundfiskere’ (Fishers of the Øresund) with the support of Swedish colleagues sailed to Copenhagen in protest. There, they demonstrated in front of the Ministry of the Environment, where a meeting of Danish and Swedish EU-parliamentarians was taking place.

Sand mining around Helsingør in the northern Øresund ceased temporarily, so the development companies sailed south to the Bay of Køge. The new area is two kilometres outside of Køge’s Harbour. According to the Nature Agency, there are already many holes from sand mining in the past.

It is in part because of these holes in the sand floor that criticism by the fishermen’s organisation has made little impact on the Board. In an NCC report, it concluded that the large amounts of sand could be taken from the area “without a significant effect on fish and without significant inconvenience to the fishing industry.”

According to the approval, “The fishing inspectors centre for the Eastern Denmark–Roskilde area (Fiskeriinspektorat Øst – Roskilde) and Robin Kvist have not provided specific information that demonstrates that the area is of particular importance to the area’s fishing industry or that mining there will have a significant effect on local fishing alternatives.” (News Øresund)

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