Fishing in the North Sea
Annual catches grew each year until the 1980s, when a high point of more than 3 million metric tons (3.3 million S/T) was reached. Since then, the numbers have fallen back to around 2.3 million tons (2.5 million S/T) annually with considerable differences between years. Besides the fish caught, it is estimated that 150,000 metric tons (165,000 S/T) of unmarketable by-catch are caught and around 85,000 metric tons (94,000 S/T) of dead and injured invertebrates.
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.
The OSPAR commission manages the OSPAR convention to counteract the harmful effects of human activity on wildlife in the North Sea, preserve endangered species, and provide environmental protection. All North Sea border states are signatories of the MARPOL 73/78 Accords which preserves the marine environment by preventing pollution from ships. Germany, Denmark, and the 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.
At the end of the 19th century large quantities of herring were produced in Scotland. Today mainly mackerel, Atlantic cod, whiting, coalfish, European plaice, and sole are caught. In addition, common shrimp, lobster, and crab, along with a variety of shellfish are harvested.
In recent decades, overfishing has left many fisheries unproductive, disturbing the marine food chain dynamics and costing jobs in the fishing industry. Herring, cod and plaice fisheries may soon face the same plight as mackerel fishing which ceased in the 1970s due to overfishing. Since the 1960s, various regulations have attempted to protect the stocks of fish such as limited fishing times and limited numbers of fishing boats, among other regulations. However, these rules were never systematically enforced and did not bring much relief. Since then, the United Kingdom and Denmark, two important fishing nations, became members of the EU, and have attempted, with the help of the Common Fisheries Policy, to bring the problem under control. Countries in the EU also have their own policies and laws in an attempt to address the problem of overfishing. The differing policies between countries have been blamed as the cause of tension between fishers, such as the 2012 English Channel scallop fishing dispute.
In addition to threats due to food-chain disturbances, non-target species often wind up as victims of intense fishing. Sea turtles, dolphins, harbour porpoises, rays, and dozens of fish species are killed or injured by trawlers nets and beams. Denmark's trawler fishing alone accounts for the deaths of 5,000 porpoises a year. Trawling can also have a destructive effect on seabed habitats as the trawler beams drag along the floor can uproot plants and destroy reefs.
|Fish caught in the North Sea in metric tons|
|Soviet Union / Russia||89,269||352,857||429,182||7,181||1||0||0|
- "ROYAL SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH INQUIRY INTO THE SCOTTISH FISHING INDUSTRY". Retrieved 2007-12-09.
- Brown, Paul (2002-03-21). "North Sea in crisis as skate dies out Ban placed on large areas to stave off risk of species being destroyed". Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
- "Greenpeace builds shield against bottom trawling in the North Sea". Greenpeace Germany. 2008-08-12. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
- Williot, Patrick; Éric Rochard. "Ecosystems and territories" (PDF). Sturgeon, Restoring an endangered species. Cemagref. Retrieved 2008-12-03.[dead link]
- "Red list fish: species at high risk of being sourced from fisheries using destructive practices". Greenpead UK. 2002-03-21. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
- "OSPAR Convention". European Union. 2000. Retrieved 2008-11-30.
- Wills, Jonathan (25th May 2000). "OSPAR Convention: Convention for Protection of Marine Environment of North-East Atlanti". The Law on Offshore Wastes Discharges in Different Jurisdictions - A Survey of Offshore Oilfield Drilling Wastes and Disposal Techniques to Reduce the Ecological Impact of Sea Dumping. Offshore Environment.com. Retrieved 2009-01-12.
- "Official Journal of the European Communities 28.12.2000 L 332/81". DIRECTIVE 2000/59/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 27 November 2000 on port reception facilities for ship-generated waste and cargo residues. Retrieved 2009-01-12. "Member States have ratified Marpol 73/78".
- Copeland, C. (2008-02-06). "Cruise Ship Pollution: Background, Laws and Regulations, and Key Issues (Order Code RL32450)" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 2008-11-30.. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- "Wadden Sea Region" (PDF). Scottish Natural Heritage: A Review of Relevant Experience in Sustainable Tourism in the Coastal and Marine Environment, Case Studies, Level 1, Wadden Sea Region. Stevens & Associates. 2006-06-01. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- Greenpeace. "North Sea Fish Crisis part 1". Retrieved 2007-07-19
- Clover, Charles. 2004. The End of the Line: How overfishing is changing the world and what we eat. Ebury Press, London. ISBN 0-09-189780-7
- Summerschool on Coastal and Marine Management (2005). "Fisheries: North Sea". Retrieved 2007-07-19
- North Sea Fish Stocks: Good and Bad News. International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. 18 October. Retrieved 2007-07-19
- "Scallop War: French 'Pelt' British Fishermen". News.sky.com. 2012-10-11. Retrieved 2012-10-21.
- "The North Sea Commission". 2004. Archived from the original on 2007-08-04. Retrieved 2007-07-19
- "WWF Smart Gear 2007". Retrieved 2007-12-09.
- "Fisheries Centre of the University of British Columbia".
- Ilyina, P Ilyina (2007) The fate of persistent organic pollutants in the North Sea. Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-68162-5)
- Karlsdóttir, Hrefna M (2005) Fishing on common grounds : the consequences of unregulated fisheries of North Sea herring in the postwar period. ISBN 91-85196-62-2)