The coast guard keeps an eye on the sea

Coast guard

Working Area


United States


MSRR = Maritime Search and Rescue Region

The area of responsibility of the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Ostend. Within this area the MRCC is responsible for the coordination of maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. This means that the MRCC defines a search area, contacts the rescue services and deploys rescue boats and/or helicopters, informs nearby shipping of the incident, etc.


ASRR = Aeronautical Search and Rescue Region

The area of responsibility of the Aeronautical Rescue and Coordination Centre (ARCC). Within this area the ARCC is responsible for the coordination of aeronautical Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. This means that the ARCC offers help to planes in distress and coordinates the search operation. If the airplane is at sea in the MSRR (Maritime Search and Rescue Region, then the MRCC (Maritiem Reddings- en Coördinatie Centrum) is responsible for the coordination.


BA = Bonn Agreement

The Bonn Agreement was concluded in 1969. It is an agreement of cooperation between the different coastal states around the North Sea which aims at preventing and combating marine pollution caused by vessels. The coastal states concerned are: Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK and Northern Ireland, Ireland, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. In 1989 it was decided to expand this agreement with aerial surveillance above the North Sea. Every coastal state regularly organizes in its own part of the North Sea surveillance for shipping so as to be able to track and to verbalize illegal marine pollution. In Belgium, the Management Unit for the North Sea Mathematical Models (MUMM) is charged with the aerial surveillance of the Belgian part of the North Sea, together with DG Environment of FPS Public Health.


Territorial Sea

The territorial zone or the territorial waters are the waters stretching from an established base line to a determined distance in which a country can define its own laws and can administrate justice. According to the United Nations Convention on the law of the Sea, the maximum size of a territoral zone is 12 nautical miles (approximately 22 kilometers), measured from the low tide mark. This is also the case in Belgium.

Note: this does not give Belgium the right to deny vessels access to its territorial waters since the right of innocent passage is still applicable. Vessels can sail through Belgium's territorial waters, but are to respect certain stipulations defined by the coastal state, such as the prohibition on oil spillage or the prohibition on fishing without a permit.


EEZ = Exclusive Economic Zone

The Exlusive Economic Zone borders the territorial waters. The EEZ consists out of the waters above the seabed, the seabed itself and the foundation. Within the EEZ a coastal state has the right to execute certain activities such as scientific research, the production of energy (e.g. windmill parks), fishery, construction of artificial islands, …

For the North Sea, the various coastal states have established the demarcation of their Exclusive Economic Zones in a treaty. Belgium's EEZ consists out of that part of the North Sea, whose outer border is defined by a line, consisting out of segments and which connects the following coordinates in the order as stipulated beneath

1. 51°16'09" N02°23'25" O

2. 51°33'28" N 02°14'18" O

3. 51°36'47" N 02°15'12" O

4. 51°48'18" N 02°28'54" O

5. 51°52'34,012" N 02°32'21,599" O

6. 51°33'06" N 03°04'53" O