Ecosystem overviews

Norwegian Sea ecoregion description

The Norwegian Sea ecoregion covers the Norwegian Sea and part of the Greenland Sea, separated by a ridge.

​​​The Norwegian Sea ecoregion consists of three management zones as it includes parts of the Norwegian exclusive economic zone (EEZ), part of the Fisheries Protection Zone around Svalbard, and the North East Atlantic Fisheries Co​mmission (NEAFC) regulatory area of the Norwegian Sea. The fisheries in the ecoregion are managed by Norway and NEAFC. Responsibility for the management of salmon fisheries rests with the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO), and with the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) for large pelagic fish. Fisheries advice is provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). The Joint Norwegian–Russian Fisheries Commission manages seal hunting, based on advice from ICES. Commercial minke whaling is based on the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) Revised Management Procedure. Marine mammal issues are also considered in cooperation under the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO). Environmental issues are managed by Norwegian agencies and through OSPAR, with advice being provided by Norwegian agencies, OSPAR, and ICES. International shipping is managed under the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Oil and gas related activities are managed through Norwegian governmental licences. Seismic investigations occur annually and are prohibited in the Norwegian sector during the spawning periods of Northeast Atlantic (NEA) cod (Gadus morhua) and Norwegian spring-spawning (NSS) herring (Clupea harengus).​

The Norwegian Sea, the Greenland Sea and the Iceland Sea comprise the Nordic seas, which are separated from the rest of the North Atlantic by the Greenland–Scotland Ridge. The Norwegian Sea connects with the Faroes ecoregion to the southwest, the Icelandic Waters ecoregion and Greenland Sea to the west along the edge to the shallower Iceland Sea between the Faroe Islands, and northwards to Jan Mayen. To the south it borders the North Sea ecoregion, and to the east with the Barents Sea ecoregion (Figure 1). The Norwegian Sea ecoregion consists of two deep basins (between 3000 and 4000 m deep), the Norwegian Basin and the Lofoten Basin, separated by the Vøring Plateau (between 1000 and 3000 m deep).

The Norwegian Sea is a transition zone for warm and saline Atlantic waters entering from the south, and cold and fresher Arctic waters entering from the north. The major current, the Norwegian Atlantic Current, is a poleward extension of the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Current that acts as a conduit for warm and saline Atlantic water from the North Atlantic to the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean.

​NOTE: this Ecosystem Overview focuses on the offshore ecoregion. Information relating to coastal elements is included where available and will be expanded in the future.​​​

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​Figure 1 (click to enlarge): The Norwegian Sea ecoregion limits, ICES areas, catchment area, depth gradient, and major ports.

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Norwegian Sea ecoregion description

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