The science and management of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea: natural history, present threats and future challenges.

Research paper by Jean-Paul JP Ducrotoy, Michael M Elliott

Indexed on: 06 Jun '08Published on: 06 Jun '08Published in: Marine Pollution Bulletin


The review provides an overview of the features of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea in their European geographical and socio-political context. To reach sustainability in the wider sense the common society has to meet the 7 tenets - that management actions have to be environmentally sustainable, economically viable, technologically feasible, socially desirable (or at least tolerable), legally permissible, administratively achievable and politically expedient. Each of these are explained and discussed using examples from the two seas including pollution control, physical resource exploitation (such as aggregates, habitat loss, renewable energy and oil and gas), and biological resources exploitation (fisheries and aquaculture). This paper discusses the similarities between the areas in terms of their management regimes, population in the catchment, history of anthropogenic changes, derivation of objectives against a wealth of information and understanding, and the history of management and control. In contrast, the differences between the areas centre on their differing hydrographic regimes, including residence and flushing times, biological features, nature of the pollutants discharged, dominant types of fishing and type of control indicated by a predominant Eastern Bloc for the Baltic as opposed to European Union control in the North Sea. The review ends with an assessment of future challenges and examples of the way in which environmental problems have been addressed in the two areas. In particular, it sets the features against a background of management designed to achieve the Ecosystem Approach within the prevailing European marine management framework.