Atlantic Ocean

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Local environment

The Atlantic Ocean is the earth's second largest ocean, extending from the Arctic and Antarctic to sub tropical latitudes. Some of the world's most productive fisheries are based in the Atlantic and are mainly centred on the continental shelves and along marine ridges. Marine life is abundant in areas of upwelling, where nutrient-rich waters of the ocean depths rise to the surface.

Specific biodiversity issues

View of the Atlantic from Clare Island to Clew Bay Co. Mayo (copyright Damian Allen)
The biodiversity in the Northeast Atlantic is high, but several commercially exploited species in the area, such as cod, are seriously threatened. Primary productivity increases from south to north and from the open ocean towards the shore in this region.


The main threats to marine biodiversity in the Northeast Atlantic are unsustainable exploitation of fisheries (over fishing, bottom trawling, discards, catch of non-target species) and pollution (maritime transport, oil spills, discharges). Accompanying these threats is the relative lack of information or monitoring of open-water species and habitats.

The Northeast Atlantic Ocean is managed by the OSPAR convention, but conservation is mainly focused on coastal areas and is generally poor in open ocean areas of the Northeast Atlantic.

See also