Characteristics of the North Sea foodweb are high production by autotrophic organisms, which, in turn, are consumed by zooplankton and benthos, followed by fish, seabirds, and mammals.
The North Sea foodweb is one of the most studied in the ICES area. In the past, large-bodied fish, including elasmobranchs, were major predators in the ecosystem. The foodweb can now be considered as perturbed, as many sensitive fish species are either absent or present only in reduced numbers.
Although, future projections of ecosystem models suggest that fishing at MSY should allow large-bodied species and the size structure of communities to recover, some species may require additional measures to reduce pressure. As predator populations recover, this will likely have consequences for forage fish populations (herring, sprat, sandeel, and Norway pout) and may lead to competition between species. However, there is still a need to further improve our basic understanding of bottom-up processes and the impacts of climate change.