EAA Denmark buries Vejle Fjord and calls for political action to restore this aquatic environment

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06 May

Life in Vejle Fjord, once rich in fish species, animals, and plants, has disappeared, and the fjord is now in an oxygen-poor and dead state. This has led EAA member Danmarks Sportsfiskerforbund (the Danish Sport Fishing Association) together with Greenpeace to join forces with other local actors to arrange a funeral of Vejle Fjord. This is done both to mourn the loss of nature, but also with the hope of breathing new life into the fjord.

Funeral context

The funeral took place at Skyttehushaven next to the fjord on Saturday 6 April. Danmarks Sportsfiskerforbund’s fish biologist, Kaare Manniche Ebert, welcomed the funeral, which included both hymn singing and speeches by author and political columnist Carsten Jensen, committee chairman in Vejle City Council Søren Peschardt (Social Democrat), political leader Martin Lidegaard (Danish Social Liberal Party) and Signe Munk (Green Left).
It was packed with around 1000 people gathered to bury Vejle Fjord and mourn the loss of the nature in the water, including scuba divers, anglers, amateur fishermen, kayakers, paddleboarders, teachers and students from the town's high school and people from near and far who had come to say a final goodbye to the fjord. 

"Vejle Fjord has been a beloved friend of lots of anglers. The fjord has been a hotspot for angling for generations, but over the last 15 years it has just gotten worse and worse. Today, the fish are largely gone. Sea trout are among the few fish you can still catch in Vejle Fjord," says Kaare Manniche Ebert.

In spring 2023, Politiken, a leading Danish daily broadsheet newspaper, wrote about the condition of the fjord, where more than 70 hours of footage have revealed a collapsed Vejle Fjord with virtually no life. Later that year, the worst oxygen depletion occurred in Danish waters in 20 years. 

It is mainly caused by the important emissions of nitrogen from agricultural fertiliser. The sector is responsible for 70 percent of nitrogen emissions from land to the marine environment. Looking at emissions locally, according to the University of Southern Denmark, 82 percent of the emissions to Vejle Fjord come from agricultural nitrogen, originating from the fertiliser of the fields. Fjords and coastal waters are in crisis throughout Denmark, where only 5 out of 109 water bodies today are in so-called "good ecological status".

Nature-based solutions can make a difference

Vejle Municipality stands out by making an exemplary effort with the project Sund Vejle Fjord, which, among other things, works to plant eelgrass, making big stone reefs and create mussel banks to clean the fjord and improve its ecological balance. The project 
shows positive results, but it is also clear that the fjord can only recover if nitrogen emissions from land are significantly reduced.

In order to reduce nitrogen pollution of Denmark's coastal waters, Greenpeace and the Danish Sport Fishing Association are calling for more solutions that will accelerate the agricultural transition and reduce emissions significantly.

To reduce nutrient emissions from agriculture, it is crucial that political action is taken by setting aside large areas of agriculture. The most important measure will be the set-aside of 600,000 hectares of agricultural land for nature. This will also provide cleaner drinking water and improve biodiversity on land.

The burial of Vejle Fjord marks a shift where the marine environment has now become a matter for all of Denmark. And even though Vejle Fjord has so far been a symbol of the decline of the marine environment, Vejle Fjord will in the future also represent the hope for a better future, where all stakeholders take responsibility for getting life back to the fjord and inland waters”, Kaare Manniche Ebert – EAA Denmark representative says.

Learn more

You can learn more about this event on Danmarks Sportsfiskerforbund’s website by clicking on the links below 

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