The coast guard keeps an eye on the sea

Coast guard

FAQ & Links

  • Are there sharks in the North Sea?

    There are three sorts of sharks in the North Sea : Dogfish, Cat Shark and Smooth Hound. They are not often spotted along the Belgian coast, they are more frequently found along the English and Scottish coasts. So if you are afraid of sharks, there is nothing to fear on the Belgian coast.

  • Can I organize a jetski, powerboat or similar race or competition at sea?

    For watersports activities in group, it is advised to contact the Federal Public Service (FPS) Mobility and Transport to see whether a permit has to be obtained.  

    In case the race has a publicitary or commercial nature, you should ask permission from the Directorate-General (DG) Environment, which supervises the regulation for the protection of the marine environment.

    In case the race does not have a publicitary or commercial nature, it is not necessary to ask permission from DG Environment, but it is still advisable to contact them and see if the outlined route does not cross a special zone for nature preservation zone or bird protection zone .

    Permissions should be requested well in advance.

    DG Environment: Steven Vandenborre - 0032 (0)2/524 96 29 -
    FPS Mobility and Transport:  

  • Can I pick mussels straight off the beach or in the port?

    No, in Belgium this is forbidden by law. Moreover, it is a really bad idea according to research carried out by ILVO, the Institute for Agriculture and Fishery Research. This research shows that eating 'wild' mussels can cause stomach - and bowel infections since they contain a high amount of microbes that can make you ill. Mussels picked off the beach or quay walls also contain more chemical substances than those you buy in the supermarket.

    More information (in Dutch):



  • Can I set sail for the windmill parks on the North Sea?

    It is possible to do so, but keep in mind that a safety distance of 500 metres has been established. No vessel can approach a windmill park closer than 500 metres.

    The only exception are vessels which have been granted entry by the coast guard, such as workboats of the windmill operator, supervising vessels, rescue vessels, etc., which are allowed to sail into the windmill park.

    Should a vessel without permission sail closer to the windmills and not respect the safety distance, this vessel is liable to punishment and can be penalized. Whenever a vessel enters the forbidden area, the coast guard centre is automatically alerted, as well as the shipping police.

  • Can I use gill nets to fish on the beach?

    No, that is forbidden. The flemish government decided on March 13th 2015 that it is no longer admitted to fish making use of gill or tangle nets for recreational fishing along the whole of the Belgian coast.

    Gill nets are long panels of netting that can be set at any depth in the sea. They can measure up to a few dozens of metres in length and consist of strong nylon fibres in which fish become entangled as they swim into the net. However, frequently porpoises also get entangled in such nets. When trapped, they can no longer come up for air and drown.

    That is why in certain coastal municipalities a prohibition on gill nets was already in place, but not everywhere the same rules applied, which could cause some confusion. Now it is forbidden to use gillnets everywhere along the Belgian coast. Sports fishermen can still use fyke nets, trawls or flat nets.

  • Can I visit the MRCC (Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre) or the MIK (Maritime Security Centre Belgium)?

    MIK handles classified intelligence, therefore visits cannot be allowed. To minimize the hindrance for the operators, visits to the MRCC are only allowed in exceptional cases. However, the MRCC is open to the public on special occasions such as Flanders Port Day, …
    More information on


    Read more on the coast guard centre.

  • Do I always need an immatriculation for pleasure craft?

    An immatriculation is an identity document for pleasure craft that proves that your boat has been added to the pleasure craft registry. That also gives you the right to sail under the Belgian flag. 

    This document is mandatory when sailing in the high seas, foreign waters, the Belgian territorial sea, the coastal harbours, Ghent harbour, the channels Oostende - Brugge, the part of the Ghent-Terneuzen channel under Belgian jurisdiction and the Lower Scheldt.  

    An immatriculation is necessary for pleasure craft with a length from 2,5 metres up to 24 metres. This means that kayaks, gondolas, canoes, pedaloes, surf boards or similar objects that measure less than 2,5 metres are exempted from the need for an immatriculation as are pleasure craft measuring over 24 metres.

    The exemption also applies to pleasure craft used for transporting more than 12 paying passengers or used for fishing at sea with paying passengers on board. In that case you do need to have a certificate of registration. 

  • Do pirates still exist?

    Pirates do still exist, but we are talking about modern pirates here. These days they are making use of speedboats, machine guns and even satellite espionage to rob big cargo carriers. These cargo carriers are a popular target, because usually there is only a small crew aboard. The pirates do not flinch from using force or hijacking the crew. Next to the cargo, they are also interested in the crew's personal belongings. Modern pirates are especially active in South-East Asia ( Philippines and Indonesia ), in some parts of South America and off the coast of Somalia.

  • Does a foreign vessel need a permit to carry out activities in the Belgian part of the North Sea?

    Foreign vessels or companies need to follow a special procedure for obtaining a permit for hydrographic and/or oceanographic activities; this is called a 'diplomatic clearance' or 'dipclear'. For more information: Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, International Transport Policy, Karmelietenstraat 15, 1000 Brussels (

  • Findings at sea must be reported to the governor of West-Flanders. How does this work?

    The governor of West-Flanders is nominated as the receiver of underwater cultural heritage. This means that it is mandatory to report all findings to the governor. The receiver is required to record these findings in an electronic inventory and he has to provide advice concerning whether the finding can be regarded as underwater cultural heritage.

    Go to for more information. The website also allows you to report your findings and to browse the inventory. This project is a collaboration between the governor of West- Flanders, the Flemish Heritage Agency and Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ).

  • Found an explosive?

    You'd much rather not encounter an explosive in your nets or on board but when it does happen, this chart of explosives may come in handy.

    It is not always easy to see whether you are dealing with an explosive or not. In time it may have changed shape, it may be covered with mud or algae or it can be that you have found only a part of the explosive.
    When in doubt, it is best to assume it is indeed an explosive. Alert the MRCCC (Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre) at once.  They will ensure the necessary assistance is provided.
    A good description always helps.
    Take pictures of the explosive and send them to Should that not be possible, describe the explosive as accurate as you can to the MRCC's operator. Use the explosives chart for this. It features the explosives most commonly found in the North Sea and gives you an idea of their shape and size.
    You'll also find recommendations on what (not) to do until the mine-hunting unit arrives.
    More information can be found in Notices to Mariners n°1.

  • Have you spotted a beached, wounded, sick or dead animal ? Who to contact?

    Seal, beached, sick or wounded
    Call the Sea Life Centre in Blankenberge at 0032 (0)50/42 43 00, you can reach them 24/7. Keep your distance and do not touch the animal. The seal might be sick and might bite you. Keeps dogs on the leash. Note that not all seals lying on the beach or a breakwater are ill or winded, they often just come to rest.

    Dolphin, beached– Dolphine, seal or dwhalelike mammal, deadCall the MUMM (Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Modelsl): during office hours: 0032 (0)59/70 01 31, outside office hours: 0477/25 90 06 0475/46 60 68 0473/95 30 59

     Bird, covered in oil
    Call the rescue center for birds and wild animals (VOC) in Ootend at 059/80 67 66. You can also bring the bird yourself every day from 9 to 12 and from 13h30 to 17h30.

    Provinciaal Domein Raversijde

    Nieuwpoortsesteenweg 642

    8400 Oostende

  • How are the sea rescue services organized?

    In case of an incident at sea, the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Ostend comes into action. They are responsible for Search and Rescue (SAR) operations.  Het MRCC informs the rescue services to deploy their rescue boats or planes.  Along the coast there are three rescue stations: Ostend with the rescue boats of Fleet, in Nieuwpoort there is Ship Support and in Blankenberge there is the Voluntary Blankenberge Sea Rescue Service (VBZR). Rescue helicopters depart out of the air base in Koksijde. Which rescue service is deployed, depends on the nature and location of the incident . If necessary all these services work together and they all work 24/7.

  • How can I prevent that my child gets lost on the beach?

     - do not let your child get out of your sight
    - stay in an area where life guards are present
    - if there are orientation posts ("verwaalpalen") on the beach, show your child the figure of the orientation post which is closest
    - the life guards can give you a bracelet for your child
    - write your mobile phone number on the bracelet
    - tell your child to go the life guards when he or she does not find you anymore

  • How do I know if it is safe to go swimming?


    Check the colour of the flag on the life guards' post.
    A green flag means that you can go swimming in all safety. When you see a yellow flag, you are allowed to go swimming, but you should bear in mind that it can be dangerous.  Therefore it is forbidden to take rubber boats, rubber rings or other inflatable or floating objects with you in the water. A red flag signifies that it is strictly forbidden to swim.
    Furthermore, you should follow the life guards'instructions at all times.

    Surfers have their own green (surfing is allowed) and red (surfing is forbidden) flag, easy to recognize by the white logo in the shape of a surfboard.

    Keep in mind that it is forbidden to swim in unguarded areas! These areas are indicated by a prohibition sign. Going swimming nearby breakwaters and moles can be very dangerous because of the strong currents and whirlpools.

    Find the different flags and signs here.

  • How many ship wrecks counts the North Sea?

    Officially 240 wrecks have been located in the Belgian part of the North Sea by the Coast Division of the Agency Maritime Services and Coast. However, there are a lot more wrecks situated in the North Sea , at a rough estimate, some thousands.

    The website of the Flemish Hydrography ( contains a wreck database. The Flemish Institute for National Heritage ( developed a database for maritime heritage, where information on wrecks, items to be found underwater and drowned settlements in Belgian waters can be consulted.

    A number of other websites of projects of interest: 

    • the Wreck site ( contains a lot of information on wrecks in the North Sea , sea charts and pictures
    • the research project BEWREMABI (BElgian WRecks for MArine BIodiversity) studies the biodiversity on and around ship wrecks in Belgian waters
  • How many ships counts the Belgian fishery fleet?

    According to the numbers of the Sea Fisheries Service there are 79 fishing vesssels in Belgium: Zeebrugge 41, Oostende 23, Nieuwpoort 9 and Blankenberge 4. 2 remaining vessels have a Scheldt port as home port. 

  • I am interested in applying for a job with one of the coast guard partners. Where can I find information on vacancies?

    For vacancies with a regional coast guard partner, surf to the website of SELOR ( or Jobpunt Vlaanderen ( ). For vacancies with a federal coast guard partner, surf to the website of SELOR. If you want to know more about vacancies with the ministry of Defence, call the contact center: 0032 (0)800 333 48.
    (SELOR website only available in Dutch/French; Jobpunt only available in Dutch).

    For specific vacancies: visit the websites of the different coast guard partners.

  • I would like to become a rescue-diver with the army. How do I go about it?

    To hold the position of rescue diver, the first requirement is to be a professional soldier. First you have to successfully complete the general training as petty officer. The maximum age to start with this four-year training is 33 years. After this training, a specific one-year diving training follows. 

    Obviously, you are expected to be in excellent shape. If you have diving experience prior to the start of the training, it is considered an advantage. After successfully completing the necessary training, you can be eligible for the function of rescue-diver with the 40SQN if there is a vacancy.

  • I would like to work as a lifeguard at sea. What do I do?

    From the age of 16, you can take a course at WOBRA (West-Vlaams Opleidingscentrum voor Brandweer-, Reddings-, en Ambulancediensten) in Oostende, Brugge, Kortrijk or Koksijde. The lessons take place from September to March, cost about 175 euros and include 25 hours practice and 18 hours theory (43 hours in total). The exam consists of three parts: theory, swimming practice, reanimation and first aid and finally a sea swimming test. If you pass all three parts, you get the certificate 'lifeguard at sea' which is valid for three years. -

  • Is it allowed to throw a "message in a bottle" into the sea?

    No, it is forbidden to throw waste into the sea, let alone a bottle! 

    It is forbidden to do so on the grounds of the international MARPOl-treaty concerning pollution by shipping. This treaty handles spillages of waste or other materials originating from the normal working of a vessel. Annex V handles waste produced by vessels. 'Waste' includes all food and domestic waste, with the exception of fresh fish and parts thereof resulting out of the normal procedures aboard a vessel. It is forbidden to throw synthetic materials anywhere into the sea.

    Furthermore in this Annex, the North Sea is appointed as a 'special area', which means that a general prohibition to dump waste into the sea applies. Food leftovers can only be disposed of out of the 12-mile zone. National regulation also implements restrictions. To discharge waste or other materials in the sea is forbidden in all sea areas (marine environment law). 'To discharge' means to purposely dispose of waste or other materials into the sea out of a vessel.

    This prohibition does not apply to ash of burnt human remains, non-processed fish, fish waste and additional catches of fishing vessels, dredging waste and inert materials of natural origin (rocks, sand and gravel).
    Moreover, Coastal Regulations also forbid to discharge any polluting substance, liquid or solid into territorial waters. It is furthermore forbidden to leave waste, wrecks, wreckages or similar objects on the public domain and to leave neglected vessels behind in ports.
    (© VLIZ – De Grote Rede)

  • Is it possible that a tsunami unfolds in the North Sea?


    Tsunami is a word of Japanese origin: ‘tsu' means ‘harbour' and ‘nami' means ‘high wave'. Tsunamis can have different causes: a seaquake (= underwater earthquake), a meteoroid or asteroid impact, a volcanic eruption below water or a big landslide. All of the above result in a big mass falling into the sea. Because of this shift, an enormous amount of water is displaced and lifted. In open sea, you can hardly notice a tsunami, for instead of a high wave, a very long wave is formed (wave length: 100 up to 400 kilometres). This wave travels at a far higher speed than normal.

    However, if this wave approaches the coast, it hits shallow water. This causes the wave to slow down. The water in the front falls to the back, upon the coming water, creating an ever increasing huge wave.

    It is unlikely that a tsunami will unfold along the North Sea coastline. The North Sea is a shallow sea, and thus the waves cannot travel at a very high speed.

    Still, the coast guard partners have taken the necessary precautions and have developed warning systems.

  • Is the use of red gasoil for pleasure craft allowed?

    No, according to Belgian and European legislation the use of marked gas oil for pleasure craft is forbidden.

  • Is there a weather forecast specifically for the coast?

    The Belgian coast has a so-called microclimate.  This means that the weather on the coast differs from the weather in the rest of the country. The sun shines more often and globally speaking, it rains less. On the other hand, in the summer temperatures are less high and there is more wind.  The agency for Maritime Services and Coast  (MDK) makes a special weather forecast for the coast. It is updated four times a day and split between the westcoast (De Panne to Oostende) and the eastcoast (Oostende to Knokke-Heist). You can also see webcam images of several coastal municipalities. Curious about the weater at sea? Surf to or check the coastal weather forecast on your smartphone.

  • Shoud I be afraid of jellyfish?

    There is no need to be afraid of the jellyfish you will find along our coast. Most of these are not dangerous.

    Four types can be spotted regularly along our coast:

    Moon jellyfish: has a white pattern on its hood in the shape of four little 'ears'. This jellyfish does not cause skin irritations. Appears during spring and early summer.

    Blue jellyfish: typically found during spring. This type of jellyfish can sting.

    Compass jellyfish: Most common jellyfish in summer. Has a brown, compass-like pattern and long tentacles.  Is likely to cause severe skin irritation.

    Barrel or rootmouth jellyfish: large, blue jellyfish which appears during late summer and autumn. This jellyfish does not have tentacles and will not cause skin irritations.

    The Lion's mane jellyfish also used to visit our coast during summer. They can measure up to half a metre. Usually this jellyfish is yellow, but red-coloured species also exist. These jellyfish can cause nasty stings. It has been a few years since they were last seen on our coast.

    The word 'jellyfish' is a misnomer, since jellyfish are not actually fish, but plankton. They cannot swim, they float along with the tides and the wind, sometimes washing ashore. Jellyfish feed off little fish and planktonlike animals which end up between their tentacles.

    Jellyfish are composed of more than 95% water with a membrane around it. That's where the name 'jelly'fish comes from. They have a sort of 'hood' with tentacles attached to it. Under the hood is a cavity serving both as mouth and stomach.

    There is still a lot to learn about these animals. Scientist carry out research into the biology of jellyfish and try to scientifically forecast strandings.
    You can help them by reporting information on observations of jellyfish along the Belgian coast. Send your message to number) or (massive number).
    You can also download a form to report your observation on

    Read more on being stung by a jellyfish

    Thanks to: Francis Kerckhof, RBIN/OD Nature

  • What can I do and not do if I go fishing on the beach?

    You would like to go fishing on the beach, but you are not sure what is allowed and what not?
    Keep the following rules in mind:
    o flat nets buried in the sand have to have a minimum mesh size of 70mm
    o Prohibition on the use of gill or tangle nets

    Beware: a lot of coastal municipalities have their own local police regulations!

    More questions? Contact our coast guard partner Sea Fisheries Service at

  • What can I do when I have been stung by a jellyfish?

    On the tentacles of a jellyfish venomonous cells are located. When being touched, jellyfish inject these cells containing venom into the victim.  Depending on the type of jellyfish and the victim's sensitivity, the pain can be less or more severe. Usually being stung by jellyfish on our coast is not dangerous or mortal.

    When you have been stung, carefully remove any parts of tentacles which may have been left on the skin. Do this by rinsing the wound with salt water (not fresh water). Avoid rubbing the wound! Rinsing with salt water or applying a cold compress may help to relieve the pain. In case of severe discomfort, painkillers may prove necessary.
    Take care: even beached and dying jellyfish can still sting when touched!

    Read more on jellyfish

    Thanks to Francis Kerckhof, RBIN/OD Nature


  • What can I do when I see a swimmer or surfer in distress?

    Call the emergency number 112 or contact the MRCC (Maritime Rescue– and Coordination Centre) in Ostend:

    •  Phone: 0032(0)59/70 11 00 of 0032(0)59/70 10 00
    • Fax: 0032(0)59/70 36 05
    •  VHF Channel 16 – Channel 67

  • What do I do if I want to go diving at sea?

    The procedure for diving at sea can be found in Notices to Mariners nr 11 of 2006 and nr 12 of 2006. These Notices to Mariners can be consulted on the website of the Coastal Division.

    You can order a copy of Notices to Mariners in the post or make an appointment with Coastal Division to come and collect your publications

  • What do I do when my vessel has been stolen?

    Go to your local police station or the police station where the vessel was stolen to report the theft as soon as possible. Bring all the documents that may prove useful: invoices, proof of insurance, proof of property and copies of shipping documents. Also mention anything that may provide a lead: information on equipment, means of communication on board, identity of the passengers, intended route, ports of call and final destination.

  • What do I need to know before going sailing at sea?

    On the website of FPS Mobility and Transport you can find the vademecum for recreational shipping. It lists everything you should know about permits, necessary documents, places to obtain these documents form and all sorts of useful information and advice.
    Download the vademecum.

     'Guide on the water' is very helpful. It features not only rules and regulations, but also a whole set of clues and recommendations, suppliesd by experienced seafarers. The brochure is the product of a constructive cooperation between the agency for Maritime and Coastal Shipping (Shipping Assistance Division and Coastal Division) the Federal Public Service (FPS) Mobility and Transport, the Maritime and River Police and the non-profit organisation Promotion Inland Navigation.

    Download "Guide on the Water" or get your own copy or the brochure by mailing your request, including your name and address to

  • What is a 1000-year storm?

    This is a very severe storm which, statistically, can occur once every millenium. By comparison: the storm of 1953 (in Belgium) was a 250-year storm. A millenial-scale storm may cause extremely high waves and a spectacular sea level rise. When exactly this storm will hit our shores is impossible to predict. It may be as soon as tomorrow, but it may as well be twenty or a hundred years from now.

    Coastal Division, part of the agency for Maritime and Coastal Services (MDK) is working very hard to protect the Belgian coast against such storms.
    A study was carried out to pinpoint the weak spots along the coast. These are the main harbours and also the coastal line between the municipalities of Wenduine and Blankenberge and between Middelkerke and Ostend. In 2011 a masterplan Coastal Safety was approved, which incorporates all the improvements to strenghten our defense against the sea. These include raised and broadened beaches, higher quay walls and the construction of storm walls.

  • What is a cuttle fish?


    A cuttle fish is a ten-armed squid. At first sight you would think that a cuttle fish only has eight arms, but in between, two longer arms are hidden which they use to grab their prey. Mostly they live off shrimp and crabs. Cuttle fish are common in the North Sea. They can grow as big as 50 cm but are granted only a short time of life: the males will live up to three years and a female will die after only one year (after having laid her eggs).

    Cuttle fish are also known as sepia. They change colours when under threat or when they are angry. Sepias bury themselves into the sand. Upon fleeing,they emit a brownlike liquid (sepia) to disturb their enemy's sight.
    Cuttle fish are shellfish and do not have bones. Most shellfish live inside a shell, but the sepia's (skeletal) shell is located internally. These shells often wash ashore during summer and are known to most people as cuttle fish bone, a delicacy for many birds.

  • What is meant by "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.

    Read more on the working area of the coast guard.

  • What is the Belgian Continental Shelf?

    The law of 13 June 1969 defines “Belgian Continental Shelf” as follows: the seabed and the subsoil of the marine areas adjacent to the Belgian coast but beyond the Belgian territorial sea.

  • What is the EEZ or 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

    Read more on the working area of the Coast Guard.

  • What kind of fish and how much fish can I catch at sea?


    For questions on fishery at sea or on the beach, surf to, click on to ‘Visserij (Fishery)’, and ‘Veelgestelde vragen (Frequently Asked Questions) or click here.You can also get information at the Sea Fisheries Service, Vrijhavenstraat 5 in Ostend. Call059/43 19 20 or mail to

  • What should I do when my child has got lost on the beach?


    - go to the life guards
    - when you cannot find a life guard, dial the emergency number 112 or contact the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre (MRCC) at 0032(0)59/70 10 00
    - mention clearly to the life guard/emergency services where you have last seen your child, their name, age, colour of swimming suit and any other information which may be helpful

  • When a seal is lying on a breakwater or a sandbank, is it sick?

    Not necessarily. Healthy seals need their daily dose of sun. It is important that they can rest, so do not get to close to them and keep dogs on a leash, so as not to disturb the seals.

    A sick seal looks frail and listless and will stay put, even when you come closer. Keep your distance and definitely do not touch the seal. When feeling threatened, it can bite you and transfer germs. Call the  Sea Life Centre Blankenberge: 0032 (0)50 42 43 00.

    The Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models (MUMM) keeps a database with sightings and beachings of seals and other sea mammals. 


  • When and where are shooting exercises organized on the North Sea?

    Out of the military base 'Lombardsijde - Nieuwpoort' shooting exercises are organized on a regular basis. For safety reasons, part of the sea is closed off for all shipping during the exercises. In the Notices to Mariners nr 1 you can see which sectors are reserved for the shooting exercises. You can also find them on the nautical charts.

    The timing for the shooting exercises can be found in the list of Notices to Mariners . More information on the website of the ministry of Defence.

    Shooting exercises are normally never organized on Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays or during school holidays.


  • Where can I find information on the necessary documents for my vessel?

    Such questions can best be answered by our coast guard partner Federal Public Service (FPS) Mobility and Transport.
    General phone number FPS Mobility and Transport: +32 (0)2 277 31 11 or mail to 



  • Where can I find more information concerning maritime professional trainings and schooling?


    Surf to for all information with regard to maritime educational institutes and a career at sea.
    (website only available in Dutch)

  • Where can I find the windmill parks in the Belgian North Sea? How far away are they from the coast?


    C-Power's windmill park (the first to be built on the Belgian part of the North Sea) can be found on the Thornton bench, approximately 30 kilometers off the coast of Ostend.

    Belwind's windmill park is situated 46 kilometers off the coast of Zeebrugge, on the Bligh bench.

    The windmills of Northwind are built on the Lodewijk bench (previously Bank zonder naam) 37 kilometers off the coast of Ostend.  

  • Where can I get a copy of the Notices to Mariners?


    The Notices to Mariners can be found on the website of Flemish Hydrography:, click on to ‘Notices to Mariners', and ‘List’.

    You can order a copy of Notices to Mariners in the post or make an appointment with Coastal Division to come and collect your publications.

  • Which watersports at sea require a permit?

    For more information on necessary permits: contact Federal Public Service (FPS) Mobility and Transport – 

  • Why can't I feed seagulls?

    It is not necessary to share your pack of french fries or your portion of fresh shrimp with seagulls. They do have food enough. If they are constantly fed by humans, they will no longer go find food themselves. They will tear garbage bags open which causes the street to be full of litter and which attracts vermin. Rooftops, cars and sidewalks are covered in seagull excrement. Moreover, seagulls are known to come and steal food out of people's hands, which can prove dangerous, especially for small children.

    Did you know that is forbidden by law to feed seagulls? If you go ahead and do it anyway, you risk a heavy fine in most coastal municipalities along the Belgian coast.

  • Why is it that starfish occasionally wash up ashore in large numbers?

    Mass starfish strandings typically occur in winter and as a result of stormy weather. Strong currents pluck the starfish off the seabed. Because of the low water temperature, they are too feeble to reattach themselves, so they keep floating around. Strong currents can carry them to the shore and so they end up on the beach. 

    The phenomenom of mass strandings shows that the common starfish is widely present in the North Sea and their population seems to be growing. Adult starfish have few enemies, except for the herring gull. Nonetheless, they should be cautious around precisely their own: young starfish are often attacked by bigger ones and certain starfish species actively hunt their colleagues.