The Coast Guard is responsible for the cooperation between the partners authorised for the North Sea. The Belgian part of the North Sea measures 3600 km² and is also known as Belgium’s eleventh province.
This might seem a relatively small area in comparison to the mainland. However, the North Sea boasts a number of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Consequently, a good cooperation within Belgium’s marine region is of vital importance. Apart from container carriers and ferries, on the North Sea you can also find tugboats, tankers, motorboats, cruise liners and yachts. Sand as well as gravel is extracted, fishing and dredging activities take place. Moreover, military practice areas can be found alongside environmentally and otherwise protected areas. Scattered all across the North Sea are numerous sandbanks, wrecks, pipelines and cables. The North Sea bustles with activities!
No less than 17 governmental institutions (both regional and federal) plus the province of West-Flanders are authorised for all these activities. The main responsibility of the Coast Guard is to ensure a good cooperation between all these partners so as increase the efficiency of operations at sea.
The Coast Guard’s main principles are:
- equality of all coast guard partners
- respect for each other’s authority
- optimum use of means so as to avoid additional cost