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The North Sea
Sea
is a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
located between Great Britain, Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. An epeiric (or "shelf") sea on the European continental shelf, it connects to the ocean through the English Channel
English Channel
in the south and the Norwegian Sea
Sea
in the north. It is more than 970 kilometres (600 mi) long and 580 kilometres (360 mi) wide, with an area of around 570,000 square kilometres (220,000 sq mi). The North Sea
Sea
has long been the site of important European shipping lanes as well as a major fishery. The sea is a popular destination for recreation and tourism in bordering countries and more recently has developed into a rich source of energy resources including fossil fuels, wind, and early efforts in wave power. Historically, the North Sea
Sea
has featured prominently in geopolitical and military affairs, particularly in Northern Europe. It was also important globally through the power northern Europeans projected worldwide during much of the Middle Ages and into the modern era. The North Sea
Sea
was the centre of the Vikings' rise. Subsequently, the Hanseatic League, the Netherlands, and the British each sought to dominate the North Sea
Sea
and thus the access to the markets and resources of the world. As Germany's only outlet to the ocean, the North Sea
Sea
continued to be strategically important through both World Wars. The coast of the North Sea
Sea
presents a diversity of geological and geographical features. In the north, deep fjords and sheer cliffs mark the Norwegian and Scottish coastlines, whereas in the south the coast consists primarily of sandy beaches and wide mudflats. Due to the dense population, heavy industrialization, and intense use of the sea and area surrounding it, there have been a number of environmental issues affecting the sea's ecosystems. Adverse environmental issues — commonly including overfishing, industrial and agricultural runoff, dredging, and dumping among others — have led to a number of efforts to prevent degradation of the sea while still making use of its economic potential.

Contents

1 Geography

1.1 Major features 1.2 Extent 1.3 Hydrology

1.3.1 Temperature and salinity 1.3.2 Water circulation and tides

1.3.2.1 Selected tide ranges

1.4 Coasts

2 Coastal management

2.1 Storm tides

2.1.1 Tsunamis

3 Geology 4 Natural history

4.1 Fish
Fish
and shellfish 4.2 Birds 4.3 Marine mammals 4.4 Flora 4.5 Biodiversity and conservation 4.6 Whaling

5 History

5.1 Name 5.2 Early history 5.3 Age of sail 5.4 Modern era

6 Economy

6.1 Political status 6.2 Oil and gas 6.3 Fishing 6.4 Mineral resources 6.5 Renewable energy 6.6 Tourism 6.7 Marine traffic

7 See also 8 Notes 9 References 10 Further reading 11 External links

Geography[edit] Main article: Geography of the North Sea See also: List of rivers discharging into the North Sea

North Sea Norwegian Sea Sk Ka Eng Ch

Sk=Skagerrak   Ka=Kattegat Eng Ch=English Channel

The North Sea
Sea
is bounded by the Orkney Islands
Orkney Islands
and east coast of Great Britain to the west[1] and the northern and central European mainland to the east and south, including Norway, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France.[2] In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea
Sea
becomes the English Channel
English Channel
connecting to the Atlantic Ocean.[1][2] In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea
Sea
via the Skagerrak
Skagerrak
and Kattegat,[2] narrow straits that separate Denmark
Denmark
from Norway
Norway
and Sweden respectively.[1] In the north it is bordered by the Shetland
Shetland
Islands, and connects with the Norwegian Sea, which lies in the very north-eastern part of the Atlantic.[1][3] The North Sea
Sea
is more than 970 kilometres (600 mi) long and 580 kilometres (360 mi) wide, with an area of 570,000 square kilometres (220,000 sq mi) and a volume of 54,000 cubic kilometres (13,000 cu mi).[4] Around the edges of the North Sea
Sea
are sizeable islands and archipelagos, including Shetland, Orkney, and the Frisian Islands.[2] The North Sea
Sea
receives freshwater from a number of European continental watersheds, as well as the British Isles. A large part of the European drainage basin empties into the North Sea, including water from the Baltic Sea. The largest and most important rivers flowing into the North Sea
Sea
are the Elbe
Elbe
and the Rhine – Meuse
Meuse
watershed.[5] Around 185 million people live in the catchment area of the rivers discharging into the North Sea encompassing some highly industrialized areas.[6] Major features[edit] For the most part, the sea lies on the European continental shelf with a mean depth of 90 metres (300 ft).[1][7] The only exception is the Norwegian trench, which extends parallel to the Norwegian shoreline from Oslo
Oslo
to an area north of Bergen.[1] It is between 20 and 30 kilometres (12 and 19 mi) wide and has a maximum depth of 725 metres (2,379 ft).[8] The Dogger Bank, a vast moraine, or accumulation of unconsolidated glacial debris, rises to a mere 15 to 30 metres (50–100 ft) below the surface.[9][10] This feature has produced the finest fishing location of the North Sea.[1] The Long Forties
Long Forties
and the Broad Fourteens are large areas with roughly uniform depth in fathoms, (forty fathoms and fourteen fathoms or 73 and 26 m deep respectively). These great banks and others make the North Sea
Sea
particularly hazardous to navigate,[11] which has been alleviated by the implementation of satellite navigation systems.[12] The Devil's Hole lies 200 miles (320 km) east of Dundee, Scotland. The feature is a series of asymmetrical trenches between 20 and 30 kilometres (12 and 19 mi) long, 1 and 2 kilometres (0.62 and 1.24 mi) wide and up to 230 metres (750 ft) deep.[13] Other areas which are less deep are Cleaver Bank, Fisher Bank
Fisher Bank
and Noordhinder Bank. Extent[edit] The International Hydrographic Organization
International Hydrographic Organization
defines the limits of the North Sea
Sea
as follows:[14]

On the Southwest. A line joining the Walde Lighthouse (France, 1°55'E) and Leathercoat Point (England, 51°10'N).[15] On the Northwest. From Dunnet Head
Dunnet Head
(3°22'W) in Scotland
Scotland
to Tor Ness (58°47'N) in the Island of Hoy, thence through this island to the Kame of Hoy
Hoy
(58°55'N) on to Breck Ness on Mainland (58°58'N) through this island to Costa Head
Costa Head
(3°14'W) and to Inga Ness (59'17'N) in Westray
Westray
through Westray, to Bow Head, across to Mull Head (North point of Papa Westray) and on to Seal Skerry (North point of North Ronaldsay) and thence to Horse Island (South point of the Shetland Islands). On the North. From the North point (Fethaland Point) of the Mainland of the Shetland
Shetland
Islands, across to Graveland Ness (60°39'N) in the Island of Yell, through Yell to Gloup Ness (1°04'W) and across to Spoo Ness (60°45'N) in Unst
Unst
island, through Unst
Unst
to Herma Ness (60°51'N), on to the SW point of the Rumblings and to Muckle Flugga (60°51′N 0°53′W / 60.850°N 0.883°W / 60.850; -0.883) all these being included in the North Sea
Sea
area; thence up the meridian of 0°53' West to the parallel of 61°00' North and eastward along this parallel to the coast of Norway, the whole of Viking Bank being thus included in the North Sea. On the East. The Western limit of the Skagerrak
Skagerrak
[A line joining Hanstholm
Hanstholm
(57°07′N 8°36′E / 57.117°N 8.600°E / 57.117; 8.600) and the Naze (Lindesnes, 58°N 7°E / 58°N 7°E / 58; 7)]. Hydrology[edit] Temperature and salinity[edit] The average temperature in summer is 17 °C (63 °F) and 6 °C (43 °F) in the winter.[4] The average temperatures have been trending higher since 1988, which has been attributed to climate change.[16][17] Air temperatures in January range on average between 0 to 4 °C (32 to 39 °F) and in July between 13 to 18 °C (55 to 64 °F). The winter months see frequent gales and storms.[1] The salinity averages between 34 to 35 grams of salt per litre of water.[4] The salinity has the highest variability where there is fresh water inflow, such as at the Rhine
Rhine
and Elbe
Elbe
estuaries, the Baltic Sea
Sea
exit and along the coast of Norway.[18] Water circulation and tides[edit] The main pattern to the flow of water in the North Sea
Sea
is an anti-clockwise rotation along the edges.[19] The North Sea
Sea
is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
receiving the majority of ocean current from the northwest opening, and a lesser portion of warm current from the smaller opening at the English Channel. These tidal currents leave along the Norwegian coast.[20] Surface and deep water currents may move in different directions. Low salinity surface coastal waters move offshore, and deeper, denser high salinity waters move in shore.[21] The North Sea
Sea
located on the continental shelf has different waves from those in deep ocean water. The wave speeds are diminished and the wave amplitudes are increased. In the North Sea
Sea
there are two amphidromic systems and a third incomplete amphidromic system.[22][23] In the North Sea
Sea
the average tide difference in wave amplitude is between 0 to 8 metres (0 to 26 ft).[4]

Ocean
Ocean
currents mainly entering via the north entrance exiting along Norwegian coast

The Kelvin tide of the Atlantic ocean is a semidiurnal wave that travels northward. Some of the energy from this wave travels through the English Channel
English Channel
into the North Sea. The wave still travels northward in the Atlantic Ocean, and once past the northern tip of Great Britain, the Kelvin wave
Kelvin wave
turns east and south and once again enters into the North Sea.[24] Selected tide ranges[edit]

• Localization of the tide-gauges listed • Tide times after Bergen
Bergen
(negative = before) • The three amphidromic centers • Coasts:   marshes = green   mudflats = greenish blue   lagoons = bright blue   dunes = yellow   sea dikes= purple   moraines near the coast= light brown   rock-based coasts = grayish brown

Tidal range [m] (from calendars) Maximal tidal range [m] Tide-gauge Geographical and historical features

0.79–1.82 2.39 Lerwick[25] Shetland
Shetland
Islands

2.01–3.76 4.69 Aberdeen[26] Mouth of River Dee in Scotland

2.38–4.61 5.65 North Shields[27] Mouth of Tyne estuary

2.31–6.04 8.20 Kingston upon Hull[28] northern side of Humber
Humber
estuary

1.75–4.33 7.14 Grimsby[29] southern side of Humber
Humber
estuary farther seaward

1.98–6.84 6.90 Skegness[30] Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire
coast north of the Wash

1.92–6.47 7.26 King's Lynn[31] mouth of Great Ouse into the Wash

2.54–7.23

Hunstanton[32] eastern edge of the Wash

2.34–3.70 4.47 Harwich[33] East Anglian coast north of Thames Estuary

4.05–6.62 7.99 London Bridge[34] inner end of Thames Estuary

2.38–6.85 6.92 Dunkirk[35] dune coast east of the Strait of Dover

2.02–5.53 5.59 Zeebrugge[36] dune coast west of Rhine–Meuse– Scheldt
Scheldt
delta

3.24–4.96 6.09 Antwerp[37] inner end of the southernmost estuary of Rhine–Meuse– Scheldt
Scheldt
delta

1.48–1.90 2.35 Rotterdam[38] borderline of estuary delta[39] and sedimentation delta of the Rhine

1.10–2.03 2.52 Katwijk[40] mouth of the Uitwateringskanaal of Oude Rijn into the sea

1.15–1.72 2.15 Den Helder[41] northeastern end of Holland
Holland
dune coast west of IJsselmeer

1.67–2.20 2.65 Harlingen[42] east of IJsselmeer, outlet of IJssel
IJssel
river, the eastern branch of the Rhine

1.80–2.69 3.54 Borkum[43] island in front of Ems river estuary

2.96–3.71

Emden[44] east side of Ems river estuary

2.60–3.76 4.90 Wilhelmshaven[45] Jade Bight

2.66–4.01 4.74 Bremerhaven[46] seaward end of Weser
Weser
estuary

3.59–4.62

Bremen-Oslebshausen[47] Bremer Industriehäfen, inner Weser
Weser
estuary

3.3–4.0

Bremen
Bremen
Weser
Weser
barrage[48] artificial tide limit of river Weser, 4 km upstream of the city centre

2.6–4.0

Bremerhaven
Bremerhaven
1879[49] before onset of Weser
Weser
Correction ( Weser
Weser
straightening works)

0–0.3

Bremen
Bremen
city centre 1879[49] before onset of Weser
Weser
Correction ( Weser
Weser
straightening works)

1.45

Bremen
Bremen
city centre 1900[50] Große Weserbrücke, 5 years after completion of Weser
Weser
Correction works

2.54–3.48 4.63 Cuxhaven[51] seaward end of Elbe
Elbe
estuary

3.4–3.9 4.63 Hamburg
Hamburg
St. Pauli[52][53] St. Pauli Piers, inner part of Elbe
Elbe
estuary

1.39–2.03 2.74 Westerland[54] Sylt
Sylt
island in front of Nordfriesland
Nordfriesland
coast

2.8–3.4

Dagebüll[55] coast of Wadden Sea
Sea
in Nordfriesland

1.1–2.1 2.17 Esbjerg[56][57] northern end of Wadden Sea
Sea
in Denmark

0.5–1.1

Hvide Sande[56] Danish dune coast, entrance of Ringkøbing Fjord
Fjord
lagoon

0.3–0.5

Thyborøn[56] Danish dune coast, entrance of Nissum Bredning lagoon, part of Limfjord

0.2–04

Hirtshals[56] Skagerrak. Hanstholm
Hanstholm
and Skagen
Skagen
have the same values.

0.14–0.30 0.26 Tregde[58] Skagerrak, Southern end of Norway, east of an amphidromic point

0.25–0.60 0.65 Stavanger[58] North of that amphidromic point, rhythm of the tides irregular

0.64–1.20 1.61 Bergen[58] Rhythm of the tides regular

Coasts[edit] Main article: Coastline of the North Sea

The German North Sea
Sea
coast

The eastern and western coasts of the North Sea
Sea
are jagged, formed by glaciers during the ice ages. The coastlines along the southernmost part are covered with the remains of deposited glacial sediment.[1] The Norwegian mountains plunge into the sea creating deep fjords and archipelagos. South of Stavanger, the coast softens, the islands become fewer.[1] The eastern Scottish coast is similar, though less severe than Norway. From north east of England, the cliffs become lower and are composed of less resistant moraine, which erodes more easily, so that the coasts have more rounded contours.[59][60] In the Netherlands, Belgium
Belgium
and in East Anglia
East Anglia
the littoral is low and marshy.[1] The east coast and south-east of the North Sea
Sea
(Wadden Sea) have coastlines that are mainly sandy and straight owing to longshore drift, particularly along Belgium
Belgium
and Denmark.[61] Coastal management[edit] Further information: Afsluitdijk, Delta Works, Flood control in the Netherlands, Thames Barrier, and Zuiderzee
Zuiderzee
Works

The Afsluitdijk
Afsluitdijk
(Closure-dike) is a major dam in the Netherlands

The southern coastal areas were originally amphibious flood plains and swampy land. In areas especially vulnerable to storm surges, people settled behind elevated levees and on natural areas of high ground such as spits and geestland.[62]:[302,303] As early as 500 BC, people were constructing artificial dwelling hills higher than the prevailing flood levels.[62]:[306,308] It was only around the beginning of the High Middle Ages, in 1200 AD, that inhabitants began to connect single ring dikes into a dike line along the entire coast, thereby turning amphibious regions between the land and the sea into permanent solid ground.[62] The modern form of the dikes supplemented by overflow and lateral diversion channels, began to appear in the 17th and 18th centuries, built in the Netherlands.[63] The North Sea
Sea
Floods of 1953 and 1962 were impetus for further raising of the dikes as well as the shortening of the coast line so as to present as little surface area as possible to the punishment of the sea and the storms.[64] Currently, 27% of the Netherlands
Netherlands
is below sea level protected by dikes, dunes, and beach flats.[65] Coastal management
Coastal management
today consists of several levels.[66] The dike slope reduces the energy of the incoming sea, so that the dike itself does not receive the full impact.[66] Dikes that lie directly on the sea are especially reinforced.[66] The dikes have, over the years, been repeatedly raised, sometimes up to 9 metres (30 ft) and have been made flatter to better reduce wave erosion.[67] Where the dunes are sufficient to protect the land behind them from the sea, these dunes are planted with beach grass (Ammophila arenaria) to protect them from erosion by wind, water, and foot traffic.[68] Storm tides[edit] Main article: Storm tides of the North Sea

Zuid-Beveland, North Sea
Sea
flood of 1953

Storm surges threaten, in particular, the coasts of the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Denmark
Denmark
and low lying areas of eastern England particularly around The Wash
The Wash
and Fens.[61] Storm surges are caused by changes in barometric pressure combined with strong wind created wave action.[69] The first recorded storm tide flood was the Julianenflut, on 17 February 1164. In its wake the Jadebusen, (a bay on the coast of Germany), began to form. A storm tide in 1228 is recorded to have killed more than 100,000 people.[70] In 1362, the Second Marcellus Flood, also known as the Grote Manndrenke, hit the entire southern coast of the North Sea. Chronicles of the time again record more than 100,000 deaths as large parts of the coast were lost permanently to the sea, including the now legendary lost city of Rungholt.[71] In the 20th century, the North Sea
Sea
flood of 1953 flooded several nations' coasts and cost more than 2,000 lives.[72] 315 citizens of Hamburg died in the North Sea
Sea
flood of 1962.[73]:[79,86] Tsunamis[edit] Though rare, the North Sea
Sea
has been the site of a number of historically documented tsunamis. The Storegga Slides were a series of underwater landslides, in which a piece of the Norwegian continental shelf slid into the Norwegian Sea. The immense landslips occurred between 8150 BCE and 6000 BCE, and caused a tsunami up to 20 metres (66 ft) high that swept through the North Sea, having the greatest effect on Scotland
Scotland
and the Faeroe Islands.[74][75] The Dover Straits earthquake of 1580 is among the first recorded earthquakes in the North Sea
Sea
measuring between 5.6 and 5.9 on the Richter scale. This event caused extensive damage in Calais
Calais
both through its tremors and possibly triggered a tsunami, though this has never been confirmed. The theory is a vast underwater landslide in the English Channel
English Channel
was triggered by the earthquake, which in turn caused a tsunami.[76] The tsunami triggered by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake
1755 Lisbon earthquake
reached Holland, although the waves had lost their destructive power. The largest earthquake ever recorded in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
was the 1931 Dogger Bank earthquake, which measured 6.1 on the Richter magnitude scale
Richter magnitude scale
and caused a small tsunami that flooded parts of the British coast.[76] Geology[edit] Main articles: Geology of the North Sea
Sea
and Geology of southern North Sea

The North Sea
Sea
between 34 million years ago and 28 million years ago, as Central Europe
Europe
became dry land

Shallow epicontinental seas like the current North Sea
Sea
have since long existed on the European continental shelf. The rifting that formed the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
during the Jurassic
Jurassic
and Cretaceous periods, from about 150 million years ago, caused tectonic uplift in the British Isles.[77] Since then, a shallow sea has almost continuously existed between the uplands of the Fennoscandian Shield and the British Isles.[78] This precursor of the current North Sea
Sea
has grown and shrunk with the rise and fall of the eustatic sea level during geologic time. Sometimes it was connected with other shallow seas, such as the sea above the Paris Basin to the south-west, the Paratethys
Paratethys
Sea
Sea
to the south-east, or the Tethys Ocean
Ocean
to the south.[79]

Map showing hypothetical extent of Doggerland
Doggerland
(c. 8,000 BC), which provided a land bridge between Great Britain
Great Britain
and continental Europe

During the Late Cretaceous, about 85 million years ago, all of modern mainland Europe
Europe
except for Scandinavia
Scandinavia
was a scattering of islands.[80] By the Early Oligocene, 34 to 28 million years ago, the emergence of Western and Central Europe
Europe
had almost completely separated the North Sea
Sea
from the Tethys Ocean, which gradually shrank to become the Mediterranean as Southern Europe
Europe
and South West Asia became dry land.[81] The North Sea
Sea
was cut off from the English Channel by a narrow land bridge until that was breached by at least two catastrophic floods between 450,000 and 180,000 years ago.[82][83] Since the start of the Quaternary
Quaternary
period about 2.6 million years ago, the eustatic sea level has fallen during each glacial period and then risen again. Every time the ice sheet reached its greatest extent, the North Sea
Sea
became almost completely dry. The present-day coastline formed after the Last Glacial Maximum
Last Glacial Maximum
when the sea began to flood the European continental shelf.[84] In 2006 a bone fragment was found while drilling for oil in the north sea. Analysis indicated that it was a Plateosaurus
Plateosaurus
from 199 to 216 million years ago. This was the deepest dinosaur fossil ever found and the first find for Norway.[85] Natural history[edit] Fish
Fish
and shellfish[edit] See also: List of fish of the North Sea

Pacific oysters, blue mussels and cockles in the Wadden Sea
Sea
in the Netherlands

Copepods and other zooplankton are plentiful in the North Sea. These tiny organisms are crucial elements of the food chain supporting many species of fish.[86] Over 230 species of fish live in the North Sea. Cod, haddock, whiting, saithe, plaice, sole, mackerel, herring, pouting, sprat, and sandeel are all very common and are fished commercially.[86][87] Due to the various depths of the North Sea trenches and differences in salinity, temperature, and water movement, some fish such as blue-mouth redfish and rabbitfish reside only in small areas of the North Sea.[88] Crustaceans are also commonly found throughout the sea. Norway lobster, deep-water prawns, and brown shrimp are all commercially fished, but other species of lobster, shrimp, oyster, mussels and clams all live in the North Sea.[86] Recently non-indigenous species have become established including the Pacific oyster
Pacific oyster
and Atlantic jackknife clam.[87] Birds[edit] The coasts of the North Sea
Sea
are home to nature reserves including the Ythan Estuary, Fowlsheugh
Fowlsheugh
Nature Preserve, and Farne Islands
Farne Islands
in the UK and the Wadden Sea
Sea
National Parks in Denmark, Germany
Germany
and the Netherlands.[86] These locations provide breeding habitat for dozens of bird species. Tens of millions of birds make use of the North Sea for breeding, feeding, or migratory stopovers every year. Populations of black legged kittiwakes, Atlantic puffins, northern fulmars, and species of petrels, gannets, seaducks, loons (divers), cormorants, gulls, auks, and terns, and many other seabirds make these coasts popular for birdwatching.[86][87] Marine mammals[edit]

A female bottlenose dolphin with her young in Moray Firth, Scotland

The North Sea
Sea
is also home to marine mammals. Common seals, and harbour porpoises can be found along the coasts, at marine installations, and on islands. The very northern North Sea
Sea
islands such as the Shetland Islands
Shetland Islands
are occasionally home to a larger variety of pinnipeds including bearded, harp, hooded and ringed seals, and even walrus.[89] North Sea
Sea
cetaceans include various porpoise, dolphin and whale species.[87][90] Flora[edit]

Phytoplankton
Phytoplankton
bloom in the North Sea

Plant species in the North Sea
Sea
include species of wrack, among them bladder wrack, knotted wrack, and serrated wrack. Algae, macroalgal, and kelp, such as oarweed and laminaria hyperboria, and species of maerl are found as well.[87] Eelgrass, formerly common in the entirety of the Wadden Sea, was nearly wiped out in the 20th century by a disease.[91] Similarly, sea grass used to coat huge tracts of ocean floor, but have been damaged by trawling and dredging have diminished its habitat and prevented its return.[92] Invasive Japanese seaweed has spread along the shores of the sea clogging harbours and inlets and has become a nuisance.[93] Biodiversity and conservation[edit] Due to the heavy human populations and high level of industrialization along its shores, the wildlife of the North Sea
Sea
has suffered from pollution, overhunting, and overfishing. Flamingos and pelicans were once found along the southern shores of the North Sea, but became extinct over the 2nd millennium.[94] Walruses frequented the Orkney Islands through the mid-16th century, as both Sable Island and Orkney Islands lay within its normal range.[95] Gray whales also resided in the North Sea
Sea
but were driven to extinction in the Atlantic in the 17th century[96] Other species have dramatically declined in population, though they are still found. North Atlantic right whales, sturgeon, shad, rays, skates, salmon, and other species were common in the North Sea
Sea
until the 20th century, when numbers declined due to overfishing.[97][98] Other factors like the introduction of non-indigenous species, industrial and agricultural pollution, trawling and dredging, human-induced eutrophication, construction on coastal breeding and feeding grounds, sand and gravel extraction, offshore construction, and heavy shipping traffic have also contributed to the decline.[87] The OSPAR
OSPAR
commission manages the OSPAR
OSPAR
convention to counteract the harmful effects of human activity on wildlife in the North Sea, preserve endangered species, and provide environmental protection.[99] All North Sea
Sea
border states are signatories of the MARPOL 73/78 Accords, which preserve the marine environment by preventing pollution from ships.[100] Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands
Netherlands
also have a trilateral agreement for the protection of the Wadden Sea, or mudflats, which run along the coasts of the three countries on the southern edge of the North Sea.[101] Whaling[edit] Whaling was an important economic activity from the 9th until the 13th century for Flemish whalers.[102] The medieval Flemish, Basque and Norwegian whalers who were replaced in the 16th century by Dutch, English, Danes and Germans, took massive numbers of whales and dolphins and nearly depleted the right whales. This activity likely led to the extinction of the Atlantic population of the once common gray whale.[103] By 1902 the whaling had ended.[102] After being absent for 300 years a single gray whale returned,[104] it probably was the first of many more to find its way through the now ice-free Northwest Passage. Once 16-metre (50 ft) "fish" were taken in large quantities at the mouth of the River Seine.[105] Perhaps the gray whale will someday return to its former Seine
Seine
estuary breeding grounds and to the feeding grounds of the Wadden Sea[105] where it will again roil the sediments and release its benthic nutrients that will benefit the ecosystem. History[edit] Main article: History of the North Sea Name[edit]

A 1482 recreation of a map from Ptolemy's Geography showing the "Oceanus Germanicus"

Edmond Halley's solar eclipse 1715 map showing The German Sea

Through history various names have been used for the North Sea. One of the earliest recorded names was Septentrionalis Oceanus, or "Northern Ocean," which was cited by Pliny.[106] The name "North Sea" probably came into English, however, via the Dutch "Noordzee", who named it thus either in contrast with the Zuiderzee
Zuiderzee
("South Sea"), located south of Frisia, or because the sea is generally to the north of the Netherlands. Before the adoption of "North Sea," the names used in English were "German Sea" or "German Ocean", referred to the Latin names "Mare Gemanicum" and "Oceanus Germanicus",[107] and these persisted in use until the First World War.[108] Other common names in use for long periods were the Latin
Latin
terms "Mare Frisicum",[109] as well as their English equivalents, "Frisian Sea".[110] The modern names of the sea in local languages are: Danish: Nordsøen, Dutch: Noordzee, Dutch Low Saxon: Noordzee, French: Mer du Nord, West Frisian: Noardsee, German: Nordsee, Low German: Noordsee, Northern Frisian: Weestsiie (literally meaning "West Sea"), Norwegian: Nordsjøen, Nynorsk: Nordsjøen, Scots: German Ocean, Swedish: Nordsjön, Scottish Gaelic: An Cuan a Tuath, West Flemish: Nôordzêe and Zeeuws: Noôrdzeê. Early history[edit] The North Sea
Sea
has provided waterway access for commerce and conquest. Many areas have access to the North Sea
Sea
because of its long coastline and the European rivers that empty into it.[1] The British Isles
British Isles
had been protected from invasion by the North Sea
Sea
waters[1] until the Roman conquest of Britain
Roman conquest of Britain
in 43 CE. The Romans established organised ports, which increased shipping, and began sustained trade.[111] When the Romans abandoned Britain in 410, the Germanic Angles, Saxons, and Jutes
Jutes
began the next great migration across the North Sea
Sea
during the Migration Period. They made successive invasions of the island.[112] The Viking Age
Viking Age
began in 793 with the attack on Lindisfarne; for the next quarter-millennium the Vikings ruled the North Sea. In their superior longships, they raided, traded, and established colonies and outposts along the coasts of the sea. From the Middle Ages through the 15th century, the northern European coastal ports exported domestic goods, dyes, linen, salt, metal goods and wine. The Scandinavian and Baltic areas shipped grain, fish, naval necessities, and timber. In turn the North Sea
Sea
countries imported high-grade cloths, spices, and fruits from the Mediterranean region.[113] Commerce during this era was mainly conducted by maritime trade due to underdeveloped roadways.[113] In the 13th century the Hanseatic League, though centred on the Baltic Sea, started to control most of the trade through important members and outposts on the North Sea.[114] The League lost its dominance in the 16th century, as neighbouring states took control of former Hanseatic cities and outposts. Their internal conflict prevented effective cooperation and defence.[115] As the League lost control of its maritime cities, new trade routes emerged that provided Europe with Asian, American, and African goods.[116][117] Age of sail[edit]

Painting of the Four Days' Battle
Four Days' Battle
of 1666 by Willem van de Velde the Younger

The 17th century Dutch Golden Age
Dutch Golden Age
during which Dutch herring, cod and whale fisheries reached an all time high[113] saw Dutch power at its zenith.[118][119] Important overseas colonies, a vast merchant marine, powerful navy and large profits made the Dutch the main challengers to an ambitious England. This rivalry led to the first three Anglo-Dutch Wars between 1652 and 1673, which ended with Dutch victories.[119] After the Glorious Revolution
Glorious Revolution
the Dutch prince William ascended to the English throne. With both countries united, commercial, military, and political power shifted from Amsterdam
Amsterdam
to London.[120] The British did not face a challenge to their dominance of the North Sea
Sea
until the 20th century.[121] Modern era[edit]

German cruiser SMS Blücher
SMS Blücher
sinks in the Battle of Dogger Bank
Dogger Bank
on 25 January 1915.

Tensions in the North Sea
Sea
were again heightened in 1904 by the Dogger Bank incident. During the Russo-Japanese War, several ships of the Russian Baltic Fleet, which was on its way to the Far East, mistook British fishing boats for Japanese ships and fired on them, and then upon each other, near the Dogger Bank, nearly causing Britain to enter the war on the side of Japan. During the First World War, Great Britain's Grand Fleet
Grand Fleet
and Germany's Kaiserliche Marine
Kaiserliche Marine
faced each other in the North Sea,[122] which became the main theatre of the war for surface action.[122] Britain's larger fleet and North Sea
Sea
Mine Barrage were able to establish an effective blockade for most of the war, which restricted the Central Powers' access to many crucial resources.[123] Major battles included the Battle of Heligoland Bight,[124] the Battle of the Dogger Bank,[125] and the Battle of Jutland.[125] World War I also brought the first extensive use of submarine warfare, and a number of submarine actions occurred in the North Sea.[126] The Second World War also saw action in the North Sea,[127] though it was restricted more to aircraft reconnaissance, and action by fighter/bomber aircraft, submarines, and smaller vessels such as minesweepers and torpedo boats.[128] In the aftermath of the war, hundreds of thousands of tons of chemical weapons were disposed of by being dumped in the North Sea.[129] After the war, the North Sea
Sea
lost much of its military significance because it is bordered only by NATO
NATO
member-states. However, it gained significant economic importance in the 1960s as the states around the North Sea
Sea
began full-scale exploitation of its oil and gas resources.[130] The North Sea
Sea
continues to be an active trade route.[131] Economy[edit]

The exclusive economic zones in the North Sea

Political status[edit] Countries that border the North Sea
Sea
all claim the 12 nautical miles (22 km; 14 mi) of territorial waters, within which they have exclusive fishing rights.[132] The Common Fisheries Policy
Common Fisheries Policy
of the European Union
European Union
(EU) exists to coordinate fishing rights and assist with disputes between EU states and the EU border state of Norway.[133] After the discovery of mineral resources in the North Sea, the Convention on the Continental Shelf
Convention on the Continental Shelf
established country rights largely divided along the median line. The median line is defined as the line "every point of which is equidistant from the nearest points of the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of each State is measured."[134] The ocean floor border between Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark
Denmark
was only reapportioned after protracted negotiations and a judgement of the International Court of Justice.[132][135] Oil and gas[edit] Further information: North Sea
Sea
oil and List of oil and gas fields of the North Sea As early as 1859, oil was discovered in onshore areas around the North Sea
Sea
and natural gas as early as 1910.[80]

Oil platform
Oil platform
Statfjord A with the flotel Polymarine

Test drilling began in 1966 and then, in 1969, Phillips Petroleum Company discovered the Ekofisk oil field[136] distinguished by valuable, low-sulphur oil.[137] Commercial exploitation began in 1971 with tankers and, after 1975, by a pipeline, first to Teesside, England and then, after 1977, also to Emden, Germany.[138] The exploitation of the North Sea
Sea
oil reserves began just before the 1973 oil crisis, and the climb of international oil prices made the large investments needed for extraction much more attractive.[139] Although the production costs are relatively high, the quality of the oil, the political stability of the region, and the proximity of important markets in western Europe
Europe
has made the North Sea
Sea
an important oil producing region.[137] The largest single humanitarian catastrophe in the North Sea
Sea
oil industry was the destruction of the offshore oil platform Piper Alpha
Piper Alpha
in 1988 in which 167 people lost their lives.[140] Besides the Ekofisk oil field, the Statfjord oil field
Statfjord oil field
is also notable as it was the cause of the first pipeline to span the Norwegian trench.[141] The largest natural gas field in the North Sea, Troll gas field, lies in the Norwegian trench
Norwegian trench
dropping over 300 metres (980 ft) requiring the construction of the enormous Troll A platform to access it. The price of Brent Crude, one of the first types of oil extracted from the North Sea, is used today as a standard price for comparison for crude oil from the rest of the world.[142] The North Sea
Sea
contains western Europe's largest oil and natural gas reserves and is one of the world's key non-OPEC producing regions.[143] In the UK sector of the North Sea, the oil industry invested £14.4 billion in 2013, and was on track to spend £13 billion in 2014. Industry body Oil & Gas UK put the decline down to rising costs, lower production, high tax rates, and less exploration.[144] Fishing[edit]

A trawler in Nordstrand, Germany

Main article: Fishing
Fishing
in the North Sea The North Sea
Sea
is Europe's main fishery accounting for over 5% of international commercial fish caught.[1] Fishing
Fishing
in the North Sea
Sea
is concentrated in the southern part of the coastal waters. The main method of fishing is trawling.[145] In 1995, the total volume of fish and shellfish caught in the North Sea
Sea
was approximately 3.5 million tonnes.[146] Besides fish, it is estimated that one million tonnes of unmarketable by-catch is caught and discarded each year.[147] In recent decades, overfishing has left many fisheries unproductive, disturbing marine food chain dynamics and costing jobs in the fishing industry.[148] Herring, cod and plaice fisheries may soon face the same plight as mackerel fishing, which ceased in the 1970s due to overfishing.[149] The objective of the European Union
European Union
Common Fisheries Policy is to minimize the environmental impact associated with resource use by reducing fish discards, increasing productivity of fisheries, stabilising markets of fisheries and fish processing, and supplying fish at reasonable prices for the consumer.[150] Mineral resources[edit]

Unpolished amber stones, in varying hues

In addition to oil, gas, and fish, the states along the North Sea
Sea
also take millions of cubic metres per year of sand and gravel from the ocean floor. These are used for beach nourishment, land reclamation and construction.[151] Rolled pieces of amber may be picked up on the east coast of England.[152] Renewable energy[edit] Further information: Renewable energy in the European Union
European Union
and List of offshore wind farms in the North Sea Due to the strong prevailing winds, and shallow water, countries on the North Sea, particularly Germany
Germany
and Denmark, have used the shore for wind power since the 1990s.[153] The North Sea
Sea
is the home of one of the first large-scale offshore wind farms in the world, Horns Rev 1, completed in 2002. Since then many other wind farms have been commissioned in the North Sea
Sea
(and elsewhere). As of 2013 the 630 megawatt (MW) London Array
London Array
is the largest offshore wind farm in the world, with the 504 (MW) Greater Gabbard wind farm
Greater Gabbard wind farm
the second largest, followed by the 367 MW Walney Wind Farm. All are off the coast of the UK. These projects will be dwarfed by subsequent wind farms that are in the pipeline, including Dogger Bank
Dogger Bank
at 4,800 MW, Norfolk Bank (7,200 MW), and Irish Sea (4,200 MW). At the end of June 2013 total European combined offshore wind energy capacity was 6,040 MW. UK installed 513.5 MW offshore windpower in the first half year of 2013.[154] The expansion of offshore wind farms has met with some resistance. Concerns have included shipping collisions[155] and environmental effects on ocean ecology and wildlife such as fish and migratory birds,[156] however, these concerns were found to be negligible in a long-term study in Denmark
Denmark
released in 2006 and again in a UK government study in 2009.[157][158] There are also concerns about reliability,[159] and the rising costs of constructing and maintaining offshore wind farms.[160] Despite these, development of North Sea
Sea
wind power is continuing, with plans for additional wind farms off the coasts of Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK.[161] There have also been proposals for a transnational power grid in the North Sea[162][163] to connect new offshore wind farms.[164] Energy production from tidal power is still in a pre-commercial stage. The European Marine Energy Centre
European Marine Energy Centre
has installed a wave testing system at Billia Croo on the Orkney
Orkney
mainland[165] and a tidal power testing station on the nearby island of Eday.[166] Since 2003, a prototype Wave Dragon
Wave Dragon
energy converter has been in operation at Nissum Bredning fjord of northern Denmark.[167] Tourism[edit]

The beach in Scheveningen, Netherlands
Netherlands
in c. 1900

The beaches and coastal waters of the North Sea
Sea
are destinations for tourists. The Belgian, Dutch, German and Danish coasts[168][169] are developed for tourism. The North Sea
Sea
coast of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
has tourist destinations with beach resorts and golf courses. Fife in Scotland
Scotland
is famous for its links golf courses. The coastal City of St. Andrews
St. Andrews
being renowned as the "Home of Golf". The coast of North East England
North East England
has several tourist towns such as Scarborough, Bridlington, Seahouses, Whitby, Robin Hood's Bay
Robin Hood's Bay
and Seaton Carew. The coast of North East England
North East England
has long sandy beaches and links golfing locations such as Seaton Carew
Seaton Carew
Golf Club and Goswick Golf Club. The North Sea
Sea
Trail is a long-distance trail linking seven countries around the North Sea.[170] Windsurfing and sailing[171] are popular sports because of the strong winds. Mudflat
Mudflat
hiking,[172] recreational fishing and birdwatching[169] are among other activities. The climatic conditions on the North Sea
Sea
coast have been claimed to be healthful. As early as the 19th century, travellers used their stays on the North Sea
Sea
coast as curative and restorative vacations. The sea air, temperature, wind, water, and sunshine are counted among the beneficial conditions that are said to activate the body's defences, improve circulation, strengthen the immune system, and have healing effects on the skin and the respiratory system.[173] Marine traffic[edit] See also: List of North Sea
Sea
ports The North Sea
Sea
is important for marine transport and its shipping lanes are among the busiest in the world.[132] Major ports are located along its coasts: Rotterdam, the busiest port in Europe
Europe
and the fourth busiest port in the world by tonnage as of 2013[update], Antwerp
Antwerp
(was 16th) and Hamburg
Hamburg
(was 27th), Bremen/ Bremerhaven
Bremerhaven
and Felixstowe, both in the top 30 busiest container seaports,[174] as well as the Port of Bruges-Zeebrugge, Europe's leading ro-ro port.[175]

Rotterdam, Netherlands

Fishing
Fishing
boats, service boats for offshore industries, sport and pleasure craft, and merchant ships to and from North Sea
Sea
ports and Baltic ports must share routes on the North Sea. The Dover Strait alone sees more than 400 commercial vessels a day.[176] Because of this volume, navigation in the North Sea
Sea
can be difficult in high traffic zones, so ports have established elaborate vessel traffic services to monitor and direct ships into and out of port.[177] The North Sea
Sea
coasts are home to numerous canals and canal systems to facilitate traffic between and among rivers, artificial harbours, and the sea. The Kiel Canal, connecting the North Sea
Sea
with the Baltic Sea, is the most heavily used artificial seaway in the world reporting an average of 89 ships per day not including sporting boats and other small watercraft in 2009.[178] It saves an average of 250 nautical miles (460 km; 290 mi), instead of the voyage around the Jutland
Jutland
peninsula.[179] The North Sea
Sea
Canal connects Amsterdam
Amsterdam
with the North Sea. See also[edit]

Geography portal Nautical portal Norway
Norway
portal

Doggerland European Atlas of the Seas List of languages of the North Sea List of the largest islands in the North Sea North Sea
Sea
Commission

Notes[edit]

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References[edit]

"North Sea
Sea
Facts". Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. Management Unit of North Sea
Sea
Mathematical Models. Retrieved 15 February 2009. 

Further reading[edit]

Starkey, David J.; Morten Hahn-Pedersen (2005). Bridging troubled waters: Conflict and co-operation in the North Sea
Sea
Region since 1550. Esbjerg
Esbjerg
[Denmark]: Fiskeri-og Søfartsmuseets. ISBN 87-90982-30-4.  Ilyina, Tatjana P. (2007). The fate of persistent organic pollutants in the North Sea
Sea
multiple year model simulations of [gamma]-HCH, [alpha]-HCH and PCB 153Tatjana P Ilyina;. Berlin ; New York: Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-68163-2.  Karlsdóttir, Hrefna M. (2005). Fishing
Fishing
on common grounds: the consequences of unregulated fisheries of North Sea
Sea
Herring
Herring
in the postwar period. Göteborg: Ekonomisk-Historiska Inst., Göteborg Univ. ISBN 91-85196-62-2.  Tiedeke, Thorsten; Werner Weiler (2007). North Sea
Sea
coast: landscape panoramas. Nelson: NZ Visitor; Lancaster: Gazelle Drake Academic. ISBN 978-1-877339-65-3.  Thoen, Erik, ed. (2007). Rural history in the North Sea
Sea
area: a state of the art (Middle Ages – beginning 20th century). Turnhout: Brepols. ISBN 978-2-503-51005-7.  Waddington, Clive; Pedersen, Kristian (2007). Mesolithic studies in the North Sea
Sea
Basin and beyond: proceedings of a conference held at Newcastle in 2003. Oxford: Oxbow Books. ISBN 1-84217-224-7.  Zeelenberg, Sjoerd (2005). Offshore wind energy in the North Sea Region: the state of affairs of offshore wind energy projects, national policies and economic, environmental and technological conditions in Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium
Belgium
and the United Kingdom. Groningen: University of Groningen. OCLC 71640714.  Quante, Markus (2016). North Sea
Sea
Region Climate Change Assessment. Regional Climate Studies. et.al. Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-39745-0. ISBN 978-3-319-39745-0. 

External links[edit]

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for North Sea.

Wikimedia Commons has media related to North Sea.

Look up North Sea
Sea
in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

"North Sea
Sea
Commission Environment Group Member Profiles 2006" (PDF). Archived from the original on 10 August 2007. CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) (910 KB) Old map: Manuscript chart of the North Sea, VOC, ca.1690 (high resolution zoomable scan) "The Jurassic- Cretaceous
Cretaceous
North Sea
Sea
Rift
Rift
Dome and associated Basin Evolution" (PDF).  (2.5 MB) OSPAR
OSPAR
Commission Homepage an international commission designed to protect and conserve the North-East Atlantic and its resources North Sea
Sea
Region Programme 2007–2013 transnational cooperation programme under the European Regional Development Fund

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