Koen Verheyen, attaché with the Globalisation Directorate (FPS Foreign Affairs):
“I handle the applications of foreign vessels requesting to carry out research on the Belgian part of the North Sea. This varies from examining the seabed to researching different types of fish or analysing water samples. The application should mention the nature of the researchers’ activities, the location and the materials used. Together with other coast guard partners, we consider if we can grant permission. In case of a positive answer, the vessels are granted a diplomatic clearance, or ‘dipclear’.”
FPS Foreign Affairs manages Belgium’s diplomatic channels. Not only do they handle bilateral and multilateral agreements, they also cooperate with specialised European and international bodies.
FPS Foreign Affairs runs an incident response centre, which comes into action in case of an incident at sea, involving both Belgian and foreign victims and occurring outside of Belgian territorial waters.
Jointly with other coast guard partners, FPS Foreign Affairs handles the applications of foreign vessels requesting to carry out oceanographic or hydrographic research on the Belgian part of the North Sea. Vessels that receive a permit are strictly watched.