Labrador Sea is the body of water between Greenland and the coast of Labrador. It is 3400 m deep and 1000 km wide where it joins the North Atlantic and shallows to less than 700 m where DAVIS STRAIT separates it from BAFFIN BAY. The Northwest Atlantic Mid-Ocean Channel, a 100-200 m deep channel about 1.5-2.5 km wide in the sea floor, follows the axis of the Labrador Sea, some 3800 km from the mouth of HUDSON STRAIT southward into the North Atlantic.
The sea's circulation is anticlockwise. At the surface the West Greenland Current transports warmer, more saline water northward, while the LABRADOR CURRENT transports cold, less saline water southward. At a depth of 2500-3000 m the dense outflow from the Greenland Sea flows around the basin and then southward as a bottom boundary current. A water mass, the Labrador Sea water is formed in the western Labrador Sea by wintertime cooling and spreads into the northwest Atlantic at depths of 1500-2000 m.
The northern and western Labrador Sea is ice-covered from December through June. This pack ice is the whelping and breeding area for harp and hooded SEALS in early spring. The Labrador and West Greenland banks have been commercially fished for cod. These stocks suffered strong declines through the late 1980s into the 1990s, leading to the imposition of a fishing moratorium over the Labrador and Newfoundland shelves in 1992. The moratorium is still in place. In 1978 a shrimp fishery began, and it grew substantially between 1984 and 2000. The Labrador Sea is a feeding ground for ATLANTIC SALMON and several species of marine mammals. ICEBERGS, carried southward in the Labrador current, are an impediment to the exploitation of natural-gas fields off Labrador.