Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

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The North Sea is used intensively for a range of human activities: shipping, fishery, aquaculture, energy production, sand extraction and coastal protection. A major challenge for management is to ensure that ecosystem services as well as the region’s intrinsic natural values are conserved in the near and far future. We lack the knowledge as well as the data in order to understand the effects of climate changes and human activities. The aim of NIOZ is to fill this void wherever we can, in cooperation with our (inter)national partners.


The Netherlands and other countries neighbouring the North Sea are highly vulnerable to sea level rise. In order to defend the Netherlands against sea level rise, sand is extracted below the -20m line and used for shore and beach nourishment. However, biodiversity recovery after sand nourishment may take a long time. Meanwhile food availability for higher trophic levels such as fish, birds and marine mammals might be limited. This could be one of the reasons for the low fish abundance in the coastal zone

The North Sea will clearly face changes in the near future as a result of all these human activities, on top of the effects caused by climate change. NIOZ want to contribute to a more complete knowledge about ecological processes in a spatial context. Along with research partners, we plan to set up long-term measurements with newly developed sensors, deployed in and outside marine-protected areas. We will address gaps in knowledge like the role of zooplankton and of non-commercial fish, and will look at how the region’s seabird ecology has changed.

With this knowledge we can also better evaluate the effect of blue-growth initiatives like large-scale aquaculture and horticulture initiatives.


We aim to strengthen the collaboration on a national level, bringing together researchers from various institutes where environmental health of the North Sea in transition is being studied, and we regularly organize workshops and symposia to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and the initiation of common research projects.

Since the North Sea and its currents transgress national borders much of the research takes place in an international context. NIOZ is a signatory participant in CORIANE, the ‘Coastal Research Institutes Alliance Northwestern Europe’, on joint research in the North Sea together with German, Danish, Norwegian and British institutions.


Are you interested in the facillities or expertise of specifically the North Sea or just want to ask a question? Mail to Myron Peck or Dick van Oevelen. They wil answer you as soon as possible. In very urgent matters you can contact them by phone.