Groundbreaking decision on kiteboarding in the North Sea by German Higher Administrative Court

11th December 2020 is a memorable day for the sport of kiteboarding in Germany as it marks the publishing of a groundbreaking decision by the Higher Administrative Court. According to this decision, the ban on kiteboarding in the coastal waters of the North Sea enacted by the state of Lower Saxony is not consistent with federal law.

Despite what newspapers, online publications and environmental organisations are stating, this does not mean kiteboarding is now allowed anywhere and without restrictions. Kitesurfers must still abide by the same rules and regulations as anyone else, and make sure that wildlife is not disturbed or endangered.

Here’s what the decision really implicates:

  •  the court order only regulates the legislative competence between the federal state Lower Saxony and the federal law.
  • the lawsuit against the kiteboarding ban was successful because the federal state Lower Saxony has enacted laws beyond its competence.
  • watersports athletes, including kitesurfers, must adhere to general safety and protection regulations and are obligated to inform themselves accordingly.
  • kitesurfers will no longer be treated differently from other waterway users.

It is in the interest of all watersports practitioners, including kitesurfers, to safeguard and protect nature and wildlife while practising our sport.

The GKA will continue to advocate for maintaining the right to pursue kiteboarding in harmony with nature and wildlife at state and federal level.

The decision by the German Higher Administrative Court is available to download here.