The development and interannual variability of sublitoral soft bottom communities of the German Bight has been studied continuously at four representative permanent stations.A large interannual variability was combined with some changes on roughly decadal time scale. In accordance with large-scale system changes documented for the North Sea, also the composition of benthic communities changed since the late 1960ies. Possible climatic, oceanographic and anthropogenic influences were evaluated by correlating the faunal development with environmental data. The vicinities of the stations were extensively sampled to evaluate the spatial variability and the sample-size-dependencies of community descriptors. Recommendations are derived for offshore monitoring of North Sea soft-bottom macrozoobenthos.