North Sea Ecosystem: Status Report
Reid, P.C. (1999) North Sea Ecosystem: Status Report. In: The Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem. Blackwell Science, Inc., Oxford (UK), pp. 476-489. ISBN 0-632-04335-0
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The North Sea is a dynamic large marine ecosystem which is bordered by a dense coastal population, contains a productive oil and gas province, has a dense shipping network and has one of the most productive fisheries in the world. An assessment of the state of health of the North Sea was initiated in 1987 as part of a developing series of international initiatives at Ministerial level to address concerns over the impact of these activities on the marine ecosystem. Four North Sea Ministerial Conferences (1984, 1987, 1990, 1995) and an Intermediate Ministerial Meeting (1993) have been held to date to develop a harmonized approach to the sustainable management of the North Sea. In 1988 at the request of Ministers a North Sea Task Force was established to co-ordinate work leading to the production of a Quality Status Report (QSR) on the North Sea in December 1993. In recognition of the large geographical and ecological diversity exhibited, a sub-regional approach was adopted and a total of 13 sub-regional assessment reports were produced to a common protocol. The Task Force established a five-year plan to co-ordinate research, monitoring and modelling and other special topics in the preparations for the QSR. As part of this exercise a ‘Monitoring Master Plan’ was drawn up to provide for the first time reliable spatial information on the distribution of chemical contaminants and biological effects throughout the North Sea. The Task Force was a unique structure in international collaboration with a fixed remit that ended in December 1993. It was successful in bringing together many diverse organisations with interests in the North Sea and co-ordinated to a tight timetable the production of the QSR. The experiences gained are now being applied to the whole north east Atlantic under a new OSPAR Convention and have wide application to other Large Marine Ecosystems.
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