Research on the North Sea

In the Netherlands, a wide range of organisations are involved in studying the water system, the ecology or other aspects related to use of the North Sea. Some organisations are conducting fundamental scientific research, while other institutes are focusing mainly on applied and/or policy-based knowledge. There are also organisations that are combining the two types of research.


Wageningen Marine Research

With knowledge, independent scientific research and advice, Wageningen Marine Research substantially contributes to more sustainable and more careful management, use and protection of natural riches in marine, coastal and freshwater areas.


Deltares is the Dutch knowledge institute for water, subsoil and infrastructure.
Using independent research, Deltares is building on the knowledge base that is vitally important globally for the survival of deltas, coastal regions and river areas. After all, the management of these vulnerable, low-lying areas is being constantly put to the test. Certainly now that the consequences of challenges such as rising sea levels, changeable precipitation patterns, extreme river levels, soil subsidence and huge pressure on space and the environment are becoming ever more evident.
Deltares’ knowledge development is focusing on five themes: water safety, ecosystems and environmental quality, water and raw materials, building in the delta, and sustainable development. This is based on the knowledge needs of government organisations and companies. And they are using it to increase their power to innovate and strengthen their position. In this way, the focus is not just on innovative technologies, and sustainability, because cost-effectiveness and social acceptance are just as important.
With its expertise, Deltares is advising government organisations on how to tackle strategic issues, such as dealing with the effects of climate change on coastal regions, intensively using the space in deltas, and improving the quality of water and soil systems. They are jointly developing measures and resources to structurally tackle the consequences of climate change.

Dutch Institute for Applied Geosciences TNO

The Dutch Institute for Applied Geosciences TNO is the main geoscientific information and research institute in the Netherlands for the sustainable management and use of the subsoil and underground natural resources.
The field of operations of the TNO department Geo-Marine and Coast is applied research and consultancy in the field of geo-marine data acquisition, mapping and coastal research. The activities are aimed at the sustainable management and use of the coastal zone, the shallow seabed and its natural resources. The Geo-Marine and Coast department strives for international cooperation.

Marine Information Service (MARIS)

The primary goal of the Marine Information Service (MARIS) is the structural improvement of the overview and accessibility of information on the sea - the North Sea in particular - the Dutch coastal waters and estuaries. MARIS originated as a government initiative. Since 1989, MARIS has been an independent foundation, which founded MARIS BV in 1996. Maris has the following tasks:

  • developing, coordinating and managing national and international marine data and information
  • acting as an intermediary and broker for an extensive network of national and international organisations in government, research and the business sector
  • supplying and managing websites and databases for diverse disciplines including the oil and gas industry
  • supplying versatile geographical information systems

supplying and providing consultancy on systems for the documentation, storage, analysis and presentation of marine data and information.

Hydrographic Service

The Hydrographic Service of the Royal Netherlands Navy informs mariners about shipping routes, the seabed and underwater hazards such as shipwrecks. To this end, the Hydrographic Service compiles nautical charts, carefully details the maritime borders of the Netherlands and carries out depth measurements. The Hydrographic Service thus contributes to the protection of Dutch interests at sea and to safe shipping routes. Go directly to Hydrography and Notices to Mariners.

Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea (NILOS)

The Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea (NILOS) of Utrecht University studies international law of the sea-related issues. The scope lies both on the content and development of the international law regime, and the significance of this regime for (coastal) states in the management of their maritime zones. Among other things, research focuses on the legal aspects of the protection and preservation of the marine environment, international fisheries management, the definition and delineation of maritime zones, shipping, scientific marine research and dispute resolution.

Netherlands Institute of Ecology - Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (NIOO-KNAW)

The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (Nederlands Instituut voor Ecologie - Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen NIOO-KNAW) focuses on fundamental and strategic research of individual organisms, populations, ecological communities and ecosystems. Until 2012, research was spread over three centres and a staff office. One of the three, the Centre for Estuarine and Marine Ecology (CEME) in Yerseke, which focuses on brackish and salt water, became part of the NIOZ on Texel in 2012.
The NIOO comes under the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ)

The Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut voor Onderzoek der Zee, NIOZ) on Texel is one of the largest oceanographic research institutes in Europe. The NIOZ studies marine systems, integrating natural sciences relevant to marine research: physics, chemistry, geology and biology.
The research conducted by NIOZ is organised around four themes:

  • relocating and transporting substances and energy in the sea
  • relocating sediments
  • the ecology of the marine flora and fauna, biodiversity, and the dynamic of communities
  • changes in the marine system and in the relationship with climate change.

On 1 January 2012, NIOZ merged with the Centre for Estuary and Marine Ecology (CEME) in Yerseke.

Rijkswaterstaat Water, Transport and Living Environment (WVL)

Rijkswaterstaat Water, Transport and Living Environment (WVL) emerged in 2012 from the merger of RWS Centre for Water Management and RWS Traffic and Shipping. The primary tasks of WVL are: supplying, making accessible and sharing knowledge as well as supporting vision development.
WVL develops the vision of its networks and our living environment for Rijkswaterstaat. With this vision, we indicate how the 3 networks of Rijkswaterstaat (trunk road system, main waterway system and main water system) should develop, the quality we supply to our users and which care should be given to the living environment.
WVL is also responsible for the review of the need for knowledge at Rijkswaterstaat. In this context, WVL organises the procurement of knowledge and is both the point of contact and the client for universities and other knowledge and research institutes.
An important part of the task of WVL is caring for the national measuring network for monitoring the quality of the water systems.