The coast guard keeps an eye on the sea

Coast guard


  • 18.08.20

    The past weekend, striking orange spots and strings were observed in the Belgian part of the North Sea near the Buitenratel sandbank. A sailor reported this to the Coast Guard centre (through the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre - MRCC) as a possible pollution. After inspection by various coast guard partners, Maritime and River Police, ministry of Defence and the Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models (MUMM, it became clear that this was an unseen bloom of the single-celled plankton species ‘Sea Sparkle’. The warm and calm weather of the past few days is probably an important explanatory factor. The mass is already rotting, which could possibly lead to oxygen deficiency and fish mortality. It is also possible that the remains will be washed ashore on Belgian beaches during this week.

    We cannot be sure that this will be the case. However, should the noctiluca wash ashore, this will be not be in one particular spot, but scattered along the whole coast since these are living organisms and the wind can change direction. We have no knowledge about distinctive foam patterns as was the case this spring with the algal blooms (ofPhaeocystis) and the tragic incident in Scheveningen in which five surfers lost their lives. These are a different sort of plankton.
    Apart from some odour nuisance of rotting Noctiluca, there is no risk for bathers, swimmers or watersports enthusiasts. It is a harmless species, which will disappear of its own accord in time.



  • 20.05.20

    Our coast guard partner agency for Maritime and Coastal services (MDK) restarted the ferry services in Ostend and Antwerp. 

    To ensure everybody's safety, following rules apply:

    Ostend ferry: face mask is obligatory for passengers of 12 years and older -  maximum of 11 passengers including 4 bikes per crossing. 

    Sint-Anna ferry in Antwerp: face mask is obligatory for passengers of 12 years and older -  maximum of 50 passengers including 10 bikes per crossing.

  • 06.05.20

    For two years, a number of our coastguard partners as well as the coast guard secretariat were under the spell of the MAiDEN project. The goal of MAiDEN was to ensure a more efficient information exchange between the partners of the coast guard centre. We received EU-funding and on april 30th, we have filed our final report with EASME, the agency tasked with the monitoring of the good use of EU funding. This means that the MAiDEN project is finalized, but it is not an end point. Quite the contrary, all partners involved are committed to continue along this path. Based on the results of the MAiDEN project, we keep working on a new information management system and we look into how more coast guard partners can join. 

    More on MAiDEN? Read the interview or take a look at the infographic.

  • 29.04.20
    Controle Zwaveluitstoot©KBIN/BMM

    In 2019 our coast guard partner Management Unit of the Mathematical Model of the North Sea flew a total of 246 hours on missions to observe the North Sea from the air. They do so with their own aircraft of the Britten Norman Islander type. This aerial surveillance is very useful for a number of reasons: to track down oil spills or other types of marine pollution, to contribute to a recognized maritime picture in case of a contingency at sea, to assist with fishery control and to follow-up on the number of marine mammals. Last year, MUMM operators observed 13 instances of discharges by vessels at sea, carried out important censuses of marine mammals and kept track of the activities in the offshore windparks. 

    Furthermore, the MUMM aircraft carried out a number of 'sniffer-flights', to see if the limits for sulphur emission are respected. The aircraft is equipped with a sniffer sensor, a sort of sulphur-sniffing device. When the aircraft flies through a plume of smoke coming from a certain vessel, the sensor measures the level of sulphur present. In case the level is too high, maritime inspection services ashore are alerted for a further follow-up. Last year, of the 1241 vessels that were inspected at sea, 51 showed suspiciously high sulphur values in their exhaust plumes. Belgium is one of the few countries performing such monitoring. For more information, see this video on the monitoring of sulphur emissions.

    Last but not least, the plane successfully participated in an internationally coordinated surveillance mission of the oil and gas installations in the central part of the North Sea.


  • 27.04.20

    Beginning of April 1st our coastguard partner Federal Public Service (FPS) Mobility and Transport took the online tool for applications for letters of registration and commercial plates for pleasure craft offline. This was necessary to adapt the tool to the new fees. At the end of this month, April 30th, the online tool will be reactivated. 

  • 23.04.20

    Even in the current circumstances our coast guard partners remain on stand-by and vigilant at all times.
    Proof of that is furnished by our coast guard partner Defence: Aerial base Koksijde ensures that all devices are operational, as you can witness in this video

  • 15.04.20

    Our coast guard partner Federal Public Service Public Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment would like to know how you think about the protection, conservation and rehabilitation of the marine environment.They organize a public consultation on the 'draft for updating the monitoring program for Belgium's marine waters. You can participate from April 15th to June 15th 2020 at (only available in French and Dutch)

  • 10.04.20

    You would like to apply for your registration letter for pleasure craft online?
    The tool has been taken offline temporarily.
    On April 1st fees for applications for letters of registration and commercial plates for pleasure craftdecreased. The current crisis measures have as a consequence that administrative procedures take more time than usual. To ensure that all new applications are registered correctly with the new fees, our coastguard partner Federal Public Service (FPS) took the precaution of temporarily taking the application tool offline. 


  • 30.03.20

    The Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) is recruiting a logistics officer and a officer for science communication.
    Please note that for both jobs, a good knowledge of Dutch is required.
    Applications for the job of communications officer must be received by April 27th 2020 and applications for the job of logistics officer must be received by April 20th 2020. 

    All information:


  • 27.03.20

    Looking forward to your yearly date with Belgium's illustrious maritime history at Ostend at Anchor?
    We are sorry to have to inform you that, due to the coronavirus, it was decided to postpone your favourite maritime event to 2021.

    Dates for 2021 are already known, so be sure to make a note in your calendar: 27 May to 30 May 2021