In the 600 ha Lake Zuidlaardermeer in The Netherlands enclosure experiments were carried out in order to test the feasibility of biomanipulation. In two enclosures of 625 m2 each the effects of reduction of fish and wind and waves on water chemistry, phyto- and zooplankton and submerged macrophytes were studied and compared to the lake.

In the “fishless” enclosure transparency increased from 40 to 120 cm, chlorophyll-a dropped from 70 to 20 μg/l, total-P dropped from 0.20 to 0.10 mg/l, Daphnia sp. > 1 mm increased from 30 to 130 individuals/l and submerged macrophytes returned. The “fish” enclosure largely behaved in a way intermediate between the “fishless” enclosure and the lake: transparency increased to 60 cm, chlorophyll-a dropped to 40 μg/l, total-P dropped to 0.12 mg/l and Daphnia sp. > 1 mm increased to 80/l. Submerged macrophytes however did not develop.

The experiments show the potential of the lake for ecological rehabilitation. Nevertheless the effect of wind and waves on a larger scale remains uncertain. Therefore plans have been made to build a larger enclosure (40–100 ha). In this way, the effects of fish and wind and waves can be studied on a larger scale while at the same time recovery of the submerged macrophytes within this enclosure will be a significant step towards ecological rehabilitation of the whole lake.

Beside the return of the submerged macrophytes the management is also aimed at the development of substantial amounts of emergent vegetation, thus supporting enough Northern Pike (Esox lucius L.) for regulation of the planktivorous fish community.