Marine Environment

Greenland is surrounded by the sea, and the sea is an essential resource for the country. The governance over the marine environment of Greenland is divided between Danish and Greenlandic authorities.

Greenlandic responsibility within 3 nautical miles

Greenlandic authorities for the environment are responsible for ocean areas that are within three nautical miles from land. This includes all internal waters such as bays and fiords and all outer ocean areas within three nautical miles from land.

The following legislation applies to these areas:

Danish responsibility beyond 3 nautical miles

Denmark has jurisdiction of the marine environment from the 3-nautical mile limit and out to 200 nautical miles from the baseline, i.e. in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The Royal Decree of 2004 applies beyond 3 nautical miles.  

Responsibility for mineral resource activities

The mineral resources sector was taken over by Greenland in 2010. The Environment Agency for Mineral Resources Activities  is responsible for the marine environment in relation to mining activities, regardless of where the activity takes place.

Updating Greenlandic and Danish regulations

The Ministry is currently rewriting Greenlandic marine environment law applicable within the 3 nautical mile limit. The Ministry of Environment in Denmark, in collaboration with the Greenlandic Ministry, is also rewriting Danish marine environment law applicable outside the 3 nautical mile limit. The updates of the two laws are necessary to bring the existing regulations in line with developments in the field of international pollution.

International conventions and agreements

The pollution of the marine environment is independent of national borders and can spread over great distances. Greenland has acceded to various international agreements to reduce pollution of the marine environment as much as possible. In the marine environment, Greenland has, for example, acceded to the MARPOL Convention, CANDEN Agreement and the OSPAR Convention.