Regions and network

UNEPGEFUniversity of Kalmar
Subregion 18: North Sea

  • Major intergovernmental agreements and actors
  • Action programmes, strategies, and research
  • State of the regional environment
  • GEF Projects in the region
  • Other actors and initiatives

    Major intergovernmental agreements and actors

    Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, OSPAR
    The OSPAR Convention of 1992 replaces the 1972 Oslo Convention and the 1974 Paris Convention, but Decisions, Recommendations and all other agreements adopted under those Conventions will continue to be applicable, unaltered in their legal nature, unless they are terminated by new measures adopted under the new Convention. Executive body of the new 1992 OSPAR Convention is the OSPAR Commission. See OSPAR information on Ministerial meetings, Contracting Parties, Rules of Procedure, Strategies & Action Plan (see below), Meetings and Documents, Publications, the Quality Status Report (see below), etc. At the 1998 Ministerial Meeting of the OSPAR Commission the Ministers adopted the Sintra Statement setting out the political impetus for future action by the OSPAR Commission with a view to ensuring the protection of the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic.

    North-East Atlantic Fisheries Convention
    The Convention was adopted in 1959 and entered into force in 1963. The objective of the Convention is to ensure the conservation of the fish stocks and the rational exploitation of the fisheries of the North-East Atlantic Ocean and adjacent waters.
    The origins of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) lie in the former Permanent Commission, founded in 1953 and formed under the 1946 Convention for the Regulation of Meshes of Fishing Nets and the Size Limits of Fish. In the early 1960s it was considered that the Commission needed a wider range of powers to regulate for the effects of the technological advances in fishing methods. In 1963 the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) was formed under the North East Atlantic Fisheries Convention to succeed the Permanent Commission. In addition to the powers of the Permanent Commission, NEAFC could also establish closed fishing areas and seasons, and regulate catch and fishing effort.

    Convention for the Conservation of Salmon in the North Atlantic Ocean
    The objective of the Convention, adopted in 1982 and in force in 1983, is to prohibit fishing of salmon beyond areas of fisheries jurisdiction of coastal state, and also to prohibit fishing of salmon beyond 12 nautical miles from the baseline from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured except within the area of fisheries jurisdiction of the Faroe Islands and in the West Greenland area. See also NASCO Council Resolutions
    . The Convention establishes the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization, NASCO. The objective of NASCO is to contribute through consultation and cooperation to the conservation, restoration, enhancement and rational management of salmon stocks subject to the Convention taking into account the best scientific evidence available to it. Regional commissions of NASCO are the North American Commission, the North-East Atlantic Commission, and the West Greenland Commission.

    International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas
    The Convention (see also pdf file) was adopted in 1966 and entered into force in 1969. The purpose of the Convention is the conservation of the resources of tuna and tuna-like fishes of the Atlantic Ocean. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) was established in 1969, under the Convention, as an inter-governmental fishery organization responsible for the conservation of tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent seas.
    ICCAT is the only fisheries organization that can undertake the range of work required for the study and management of tunas and tuna-like fishes in the Atlantic. The Commission's work requires the collection and analysis of statistical information relative to current conditions and trends of the fishery resources in the Convention area.

    Agreement Concerning Measures for the Protection of the Stocks of Deep Sea Prawns, European Lobsters, Norway lobsters and Crabs
    The objective of the Agreement (adopted in 1952) between Norway, Denmark and Sweden is to protect the stocks of the species concerned. Provisions are set out in the Agreement concerning equipment for catching these species and the permitted size of speciemens to be caught. In 1959, the countries adopted a Protocol amending the Agreement.

    North Sea Conferences
    The Fifth International Conference on the Protection of the North Sea was held in March 2002. Previous Conferences took place in 1984, 1987, 1990, 1993, 1995 and 1997. These Conferences are political events for a broad and comprehensive assessment of the measures needed to protect the North Sea environment. The results are recorded in the Conference Ministerial Declarations.

    Bonn Agreement
    An international agreement by North Sea coastal states, together with the EC to: offer mutual assistance and co-operation in combating pollution; execute surveillance as an aid to detecting and combating pollution and to prevent violations of anti-pollution regulations. The Bonn Agreement is a network of professionals with responsibility for adequate pollution response. The members of the Bonn Agreement are Belgium, Denmark, European Community, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    International Convention for the Protection of the Rhine
    The Convention will replace the 1963 Bern Convention and form the basis for the future co-operation between the Rhine states. Information also on the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine, ICPR, the Rhine (characteristics and state); the co-operation; various action plans (salmon, measures against flooding); surveillance, etc.

    Joint Declaration on the Protection of the Wadden Sea
    The web site of the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (CWSS) for the Trilateral Cooperation on the Protection of the Wadden Sea includes information on the Wadden Sea area itself, on the trilateral co-operation; the Trilateral Wadden Sea Plan; Environmental Impact Assessments; Monitoring and Assessments; Management, Publications; etc. Wadden Sea Conferences at the ministerial level have been held regularly since 1978. See also the 1999 Wadden Sea Quality Status Report (see below).

    Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas
    Parties to ASCOBANS are Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Forming part of the Agreement is a Conservation and Management Plan which requires Parties to: undertake habitat conservation and management; conduct surveys and research; establish an efficient system for reporting and retrieving by-catches and stranded specimens; enforce legislation that prohibits the intentional taking and killing of small cetaceans and creates the obligation to release immediately any animals caught alive and in good health; disseminate information and education to the general public and to fishermen.

    International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, ICES
    ICES is the oldest intergovernmental organisation in the world concerned with marine and fisheries science. Since its establishment in Copenhagen in 1902, ICES has been a leading scientific forum for the exchange of information and ideas on the sea and its living resources, and for the promotion and coordination of marine research by scientists within its member countries. Since the 1970s, a major area of ICES work as an intergovernmental marine science organization is to provide information and advice to Member Country governments and international regulatory commissions (including OSPAR and the European Commission) for the protection of the marine environment and for fisheries conservation.

    UN Economic Commission for Europe, ECE
    The Environment and Human Settlements Division is part of the secretariat of the UN ECE. It brings together economists, scientists, urban planners and other experts, and organizes the regular intergovernmental meetings of the Committee on Environmental Policy, the Executive Body for the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes and the Committee on Human Settlements. At these meetings, government representatives from Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel address environmental and human settlements issues, such as environmental impact assessment, air and water pollution, urban renewal or land registration.


    Action programmes, strategies and research

    OSPAR Strategies and Action Plan

    • The OSPAR Action Plan 1998-2003 (update 2000)
    • Strategy with regard to Hazardous Substances
    • Strategy with regard to Radioactive Substances
    • Strategy to Combat Eutrophication
    • Strategy on the Protection and Conservation of the Ecosystems and Biological Diversity of the Maritime Area
    • Strategy on Environmental Goals and Management Mechanisms for Offshore Activities.

    Trilateral Wadden Sea Plan
    Adopted at the Eigth Trilateral Governmetal Conference in Stade in October 1997, the WSP entails the common policies, measures, projects and actions of the countries for their joint efforts to fulfill the ecological targets.

    Regional Vision for the Rhine Basin
    (pdf document). Regional visions form the basis for effective action, even as elements of a global plan. As a part of the Water Vision project, Regional Consultations were held and resulted in Regional Visions. The objective was to involve the stakeholders of each region in the development of their own regional vision, as the building blocks of the World Water Vision. Guided by the World Commission on Water in the 21st Century and managed by the World Water Vision Unit hosted by of the UNESCO Division of Water Science, the World Water Vision "aims to develop a massive public awareness of the risks of major water problems as a result of inaction, as well as encourage innovative thinking on how these problems can be tackled. It should encourage and empower people to participate in devising and implementing solutions to these water problems. And it should generate the political commitment to turn this increased public awareness into effective action".

    UNEP Regional Seas Programme
    The Regional Seas Programme was initiated in 1974 as a global programme implemented through regional components. The Regional Seas Programme is UNEP's main framework in the field of the coastal and marine environment. It includes 14 regions and three partner seas, involves more than 140 coastal states, and focuses on sustainable development of coastal and marine areas. Each regional action plan is formulated according to the needs and priorities of the region as perceived by the Governments concerned. Regional conventions are in place for several areas. See a map of all regional seas, and go to more information on the Black Sea, Wider Caribbean, Mediterranean, East Asian Seas, South Asian Seas, Eastern Africa, Kuwait Region, North West Pacific, Red Sea And Gulf of Aden, South East Pacific, North East Pacific, South Pacific, Upper South West Atlantic, and West and Central Africa. The UNEP Regional Seas web site also contains information on What's at stake, Major threats, and Actions.


    State of the regional environment

    OSPAR Quality Status Reports, QSR
    The second version of the OSPAR QSR will be published in December 2000. Chapter 6 Overall Assessment is now available online. The final QSR will also include Regional QSR. Executive summaries of these chapters Arctic Waters, the Greater North Sea, the Celtic Seas, Bay of Biscay and Iberian Coast, and the Wider Atlantic are also available.

    Wadden Sea Quality Status Report 1999
    After the "Development Report" of 1991 and the "1993 Quality Status Report" it is the third time that an integrated assessment report of the Wadden Sea has been published. It contains chapters on protection and management, human use, climate, marine chemistry and biology. For the first time dunes, beaches, estuaries and the offshore zone are addressed.

    Status of fisheries and related environment of Northern Seas
    Report (pdf file) prepared for the Nordic Council of Ministers by ICES (February 2000). It discusses sustainability in fisheries, gives an overview of the marine environment, and gives scientific evaluation of all the commercial fish stocks where ICES has an advisory role.

    GEO 2000 State of the Environment: Europe and Central Asia

    Global Enviroment Outlook 2000. GEO is:

    • a global environmental assessment process, the GEO Process, that is cross-sectoral and participatory. It incorporates regional views and perceptions, and builds consensus on priority issues and actions through dialogue among policy-makers and scientists at regional and global levels.
    • GEO outputs, in printed and electronic formats, including the GEO Report series. This series makes periodic reviews of the state of the world's environment, and provides guidance for decision-making processes such as the formulation of environmental policies, action planning and resource allocation. Other outputs include technical reports, a web site and a publication for young people.

    GEF Projects in the region



    Other actors, initiatives and resources

    North Sea Commission
    Founded in 1989 to facilitate and enhance partnerships between regions which manage the challenges and opportunities presented by the North Sea. Furthermore, to promote the North Sea Basin as a major economic entity within Europe, by encouraging joint development intiatives and political lobbying at European Union level. The North Sea Commission has determined that its activities must be action orientated, involving co-operation programmes, research activities, funding applications, and joint policy statements which bring positive benefits to the people of the North Sea Basin. It is one of five Commissions under the umbrella of CPMR (the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions). See projects and the NSC Environment Group.

    The North Sea - a Large Marine Ecosystem (LME)
    A Large Marine Ecosystem, LME, is a "region of ocean space encompassing coastal areas from river basins and estuaries to the seaward boundary of continental shelves and the seaward margins of coastal current systems. It is a relatively large region characterized by distinct bathymetry, hydrography, productivity, and trophically dependent populations." See also Rhode Island University map of LMEs.


  • Global International Waters Assessment, GIWA
    SE- 391 82 Kalmar, Sweden
    Phone: +46- 480 44 60 00. Fax: +46- 480 44 73 55.

    page last modified on 22 August 2006