The North Sea is a shallow, relatively young ecosystem formed by the flooding of a landmass approximately 20 000 years ago. It is still being colonised by new species from the Atlantic. The North Sea is a rich source of marine resources including fisheries, aggregates (sand and gravel), oil and gas. The region is surrounded by the coastlines of England, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, which benefit from its resources.
Specific biodiversity issues
The North Sea is one of the most productive seas in the world, with a vast array of plankton, fish, seabirds and benthic communities.The area contains some of the world's most important fishing grounds. The deeper northern regions of the North Sea have higher diversity and lower biomass than more shallow southern regions.
The primary threats to biodiversity in the North Sea are overexploitation of fisheries, resource exploitation (oil, gas and aggregate extraction), nutrient input from the heavily populated coastal regions, recreational use and habitat loss.