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Tromp, D., Zevenboom, W., Stolk, A.: International cooperation around the North Sea basin. Journal auf Coastal Conservation, 4(2): 143-150, 1998.


Abstract. During the past 25 years, the management of marine ecosystems has evolved significantly. Due to the increased use of the sea and the increased awareness of adverse impacts of certain human activities in and around the sea, which has been a common good for a long time – ‘Mare Liberum’ – an international and integrated approach has become increasingly important to regulate the use of our common seas. From the late 1960s onwards, intergovernmental meetings have taken place in order to tackle the problems of international pollution of seas and oceans. One reason for this attention was the Torrey Canyon accident in 1967, which triggered the start of the Bonn Agreement in 1969 for coordinating the combat mission against oil and chemical spills in the North Sea. After the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, with the involvement of the European Union, the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), other regional and global Conventions, as well as the North Sea Ministerial Conferences were established. These continuous international efforts have resulted in a considerable reduction of the input of certain contaminants and of nutrients (in particular phosphate) into the marine environment. However, not all problems have yet been solved. The North Sea Ministers agreed at the Conference in Esbjerg (1995) to aim at a reduction of the input of all hazardous substances within one generation, in order to reach the goal of negligible risks of pollution. Furthermore, there is a general aim to minimize adverse effects of disturbing activities. The challenge, now and in the future, is to find a balance between economic development and environmental protection of our international marine waters aiming at a sustainable development of the marine resources by employing scientifically based measures and, in situations where there are reasonable grounds for concern but no conclusive links between cause and problem, applying the precautionary principle with respect to pollution and disturbing activities.

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