Proposals to give certain areas within the Dutch sector of the Continental Shelf ’protected area’ status engender much discussion. The assignment of protected areas is preceded by studies of ecological ’benefits’ and juridical possibilities, by order of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Conservation and Fisheries (LNV). A similar study was performed by the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, leading to the suggestion that ’zones’ rather than certain areas should be given protected status. The discussion is focussed on the land of measures to be taken, within and outside the protected areas (Working group North Sea) and on the benefit for fisheries (Fisheries Directorate). In the meantime, oil/gas drilling has commenced in one of the most vulnerable areas, the Frisian Front, which is given protection in both proposals.