Download2 The North-East Atlantic

A common sea with varied ecosystems and management challenges

The OSPAR Convention covers most of the North-East Atlantic and its adjacent seas. This is a vast area of about 13.5 million km2 which includes a diverse range of environmental conditions and different ecosystems. These play a key role in the types and patterns of human activity in the North-East Atlantic and associated impacts on the marine environment. Knowledge about the biodiversity of the marine ecosystems of the OSPAR area and its interactions with ocean dynamics and human activities is still limited.

Much of the coastal area in the North-East Atlantic is densely populated, highly industrialised or used intensively for agriculture. Population density is much higher on the coasts than inland, with most of the population in some areas of Northern Europe being concentrated in coastal settlements. Population density is highest on the Iberian and North Sea coasts (with over 500 inhabitants per km2) and lowest in Region I (with fewer than 10 inhabitants per km2 in some remote areas) and Region V, which covers more than half of the OSPAR maritime area, dominated by High Seas. Even in areas with low population density, large coastal settlements can exert pressures on the sea Figure 2.1.

OSPAR Regions

Figure 2.1 Population in coastal urban areas in 2001...