Dutch Part of North Sea to Adapt New Shipping Routes

Dutch Part of North Sea to Adapt Shipping Routes

The Dutch part of the North Sea is one of the busiest shipping routes in the world. Moreover, it is now also being used more and more intensively for other purposes, such as wind energy, nature protection and sand extraction. In order to keep the waterways safe for maritime traffic and to ensure a more efficient use of the available space, it has been decided to adapt the shipping routes.

What is to change?

The new shipping routes come into effect at midnight UTC (2 a.m. local time) on 1 August 2013. The main changes are:

  • a new Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) − already in force in Rotterdam − will be introduced in the approaches to IJmuiden. This will ensure that vessels sailing in opposite directions have their own sea lanes.
  • the routes will be located farther from the coast
  • the routes will intersect each other less often
  • anchorage areas will be relocated or abolished
  • the space around objects (platforms, etc.) will be configured differently ‘areas to be avoided’ and ‘precautionary areas’ will be introduced. Vessels will no longer be allowed to sail in ‘areas to be avoided’, while vessels sailing in ‘precautionary areas’ will be explicitly advised to navigate carefully.


  • April 2013: 1st messages to shipping with advance information about the adjustments and the availability of new nautical charts
  • between 30 May – 15 June 2013: new nautical charts available
  • from 15 June onward: daily navigation messages and Notices to Mariners
  • 30 and 31 July and 1 August: relocations of buoys on the North Sea
  • 1 August 2013 – midnight UTC (2 a.m. local time): the new routes (PDF, 972 Kb) become effective

 Impediments and measures

From April 2013 onward, maritime traffic will regularly receive messages focusing on the new routes. Maritime traffic will be deemed, and explicitly advised, to monitor the messages through the usual channels.

The messages will be displayed on the websites of:

  •  the Netherlands Hydrographic Office
  •  the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office

Rijkswaterstaat will relocate the buoys on 30 and 31 July and 1 August 2013. During that time, maritime traffic may still pass through unobstructed. Various measures will be taken to guarantee safety during the transition period. Before and during relocation of the buoys, maritime traffic will be kept informed by means of live navigation messages and Notices to Mariners.

During relocation of the buoys on 30 and 31 July, the old navigation routes remain operational.

Extra availability of ETV and VTS

From 31 July 2013 up to several days after the new routes have come into effect, extra vessels (Emergency Towing Vessels (ETV)) and Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) will be deployed to supervise maritime traffic and, where necessary, lend assistance. In addition, a Coastguard aircraft, a helicopter and the Arca (equipped with anti-pollutant materials) will be on standby should assistance be required.

Rijkswaterstaat, March 15, 2013