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North Sea

MSP EU Legend 2
This map was compiled from different international sources such as EMODnet, EEA or Marine Regions. Information obtained from these sources was cross-checked with data from national sources. While compilation was carried out by the European MSP Platform, validation and quality assurance remain the responsibility of the primary data sources.

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northsea [at] (northsea[at]maritime-spatial-planning[dot]ec[dot]europa[dot]eu)

General Introduction to the North Sea

The North Sea region is one of the most heavily used seas in Europe and globally with extensive shipping, fishing, aggregate extraction and energy production. The North Sea basin comprises EU Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands) as well as non-EU countries (Norway and the United Kingdom). In this sea basin are located 3 of the world’s largest ports - Rotterdam (the Netherlands), Antwerp (Belgium) and Hamburg (Germany).The following key sectors are considered the most important in the North Sea: offshore wind, offshore oil & gas, aquaculture, shipping, shipbuilding, cruise tourism and coastal protection.

Shipping and the associated port activities are the main sector in the North Sea basin in terms of Gross Value Added, which results in intensive maritime traffic within the sea basin. The high volume of maritime activities taking place in the North Sea basin, requires the installation of offshore infrastructure, including pipelines and cables, which occupies the space on the sea, at the bottom, and in the water column.

The North Sea is situated in temperate latitudes with a climate that is strongly influenced by the inflow of oceanic water from the Atlantic Ocean and by the large-scale westerly air circulation which frequently contains low pressure systems. The North Sea is relatively shallow, with an average depth of 90m and the seabed is mainly composed of mud, sand and gravel. Biological systems in the North Sea are rich and complex with significant areas of importance for birds, fish and marine mammals. Approximately 230 species of fish are known to inhabit the area, with important spawning grounds for a number of species and prey for birds and marine mammals. Some 10 million seabirds are present at most times of the year with extensive migration of protected species across the region. Marine mammals are present over large parts of the North Sea (OSPAR, 2015).

Countries and MSP in the North Sea

Belgium: MSP Adopted

Germany: MSP Adopted

The Netherlands: MSP Adopted

Denmark: MSP Adopted

Additional information