The North-East Atlantic has some of the world’s busiest shipping routes. The OSPAR area handles 90% of EU external trade and around 35% of trade between EU countries. There is also a huge amount of through-traffic. Ship traffic in Regions II and IV has been increasing over the past 20 years as trade has grown and alternatives to road transport have been promoted Figure 9.1. This includes increases in the number of ships, the cargo carried and the size of ships. Transport by sea is considered more environmentally friendly than transport by air or road, but shipping has clear impacts on the marine environment.