Experts and shipping stakeholders drafted recommendations for sustainable ferries

In November and December 2022 two workshops on nature- and climate-friendly ferries took place in Leer and Oldenburg (Lower Saxony). Experts and stakeholders from the national park authority, environmental NGOs, water police, academia, tourism, as well as commercial and recreational shipping came together to discuss sustainable ferries in the Wadden Sea. Across the board there was concern that ferries and especially water taxis operating trilaterally are far from climate- and nature-friendly. Recommendations for action were developed during the workshops, taking into account a series of expert interviews conducted during the two-year project.

Outdated diesel ferries run on about 60% of the more than 80 ferry connections in the trilateral Wadden Sea, including Helgoland. Five ferries run on gas and there is only one E-ferry currently in operation (Fanø) and another one planned for Norderney. Large catamarans with speeds of up to 35 knots operate on about 20% of routes. Two catamarans out of a total of 19 run on gas. There are no electrified catamarans in operation. The workshop participants were particularly concerned about the emerging trend of water taxis, which run on about 10% of routes. The carbon emissions per passenger are about 12 times higher for water taxis compared with a conventional ferry. In addition, the disturbance and underwater noise caused by these very fast small boats is considerable.

The project on sustainable ferries was coordinated by NABU and is part of the Partnership Hub’s project “Sharing and developing knowledge to strengthen the contribution of shipping to a well-protected Wadden Sea World Heritage”.