Ecosystem overviews

Norwegian Sea ecoregion description

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 (NwS) connects with the Northeast Atlantic Ocean 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 to the shallower North Sea along the 62˚N parallel between Norway and the Faroe Islands, and to the northeast with the shallower Barents Sea (Figure 1).

The Norwegian Sea covers more than 1.1 million km2, consisting 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 separated from the Greenland Sea to the north by the Mohn Ridge. To the west, the basin slope forms the transition to the somewhat shallower Iceland Sea. The upper ocean of the Nordic seas consists of warm and saline Atlantic water to the east, and cold and fresh polar water from the Arctic to the west.

The Norwegian and Barents seas are transition zones for warm and saline waters on their way from the Atlantic to the Arctic Ocean. The major current, the Norwegian Atlantic Current (NwAC), 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.

The fisheries in the Norwegian Sea ecoregion are managed by Norway and by coastal states, with some fisheries managed by the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC). Responsibility for management of salmon fisheries rests with the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO), and for large pelagic fish with the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Fisheries advice is provided by ICES. 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). The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has regulations for the conservation and harvest of whales. Marine mammal issues are also considered in cooperation under the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO).

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Figure 1: The Norwegian Sea ecoregion, showing EEZs and depth contours.


Figure 2: Catchment area for the Norwegian Sea ecoregion, showing major cities, ports, and ICES areas.

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Norwegian Sea ecoregion description

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