The coast guard keeps an eye on the sea

Coast guard


  • 20.08.18

    An afternoon at the beach? An ideal time to browse throug the summer sea newspaper!
    This is already the 11th year that the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) and West-Flanders province keep you informed about a wide range of marine-related subjects. Find out more about walrusses, microplastics and drowned Ostend. The newspaper also features a shell identification chart so that you can learn all the names of the shell at your feet. 
    You can get the newspaper at the VLIZ offices or at the visitor centres and tourism offices along the Belgian coast. Sadly, it is only available in Dutch, but that's a good motivation to work on your language skills, no?

  • 01.08.18

    August 1st 2018, administrator-general Jacques D'havé from the agency for Maritime and Coastal services is retiring. Not only was he in charge of the four coast guard partners unified in the agency (Coastal Divison, Shipping Assistance Division, Pilotage and Fleet), he was also chairman of the Coast Guard's policy-making body. We want to take this opportunity to thank captain D'havé for the years of coopeation, his pragmatic handling and solution-oriented thinking, his continuous availability and for the crucial role he played in the creation of the Coast Guard structure. We wish him a well-earned retirement!

    Mr. D'havé is succeeded by Mrs. Nathalie Balcaen, who was up until now maritime and logistic advisor for the regional minister of Mobility and Public Works. The Coast Guard is not an unknown factor to her, since she used to work at our coast guard partner Coastal Division as the deputy head of Flemish Hydrography and director Coastal Development. 

  • 24.07.18

    On the west coast of Belgium, in De Panne and Nieuwpoort, there are more jellyfish than usual. Several people were stung and had to be treated by the lifeguards. The jellyfish now spotted on the west coast, is the so called 'compass jellyfish', the most common jellyfish in summer. It has a brown, compass-like pattern and long tentacles and is likely to cause severe skin irritation.

    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!

    Thanks to Francis Kerckhof, RBIN/OD Nature

  • 19.07.18

    Even in high summer, our coast guard partners keep busy, as proven by Coastal Division. One of their most crucial core tasks is the protection of the population against the forces of the sea, storms surge and flooding.
    Basic infrastructure in the coastal harbours of Nieuwpoort, Oostende, Blankenberge and Zeebrugge is also maintained by the division. 
    Did you know that you can find an overview of all ongoing projects on the Coastal Division website? There you can also admire all the completed works and see which ones are planned for the near furture.


  • 05.07.18

    Since 2016 our coastguard partner Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences (RBINS) has been using a so-called ‘sniffer’ sensor on board the Belgian Coastguard aircraft for the airborne monitoring of ship-source atmospheric pollution in the North Sea. With this innovative sensor ship emissions can be measured offshore and based on that the fuel sulphur content of ships can be calculated. This enables a more effective monitoring of ship emission standards and the identification of potential offenders.

    Our country is a real pioneer in this activity. We already co-operate with the Netherlands, and other North Sea countries are also considering following our example. This monitoring programme does not only arouse a lot of interest within the EU, our approach even attracted great attention in Canada and China! The international interest motivates the scientists of the Belgian aerial surveillance to continue to strive for a joint, strengthened enforcement of atmospheric pollution from ships.

  • 03.07.18

    On June 13th 2018, it was officially the first anniversary of BE-Alert. BE-Alert is an initiative of our coast guard partner Crisis centre of the Federal Public Service Interior. It is a system to help the Belgian municipalities and cities alert their citizens quickly during an emergency situation. The results after one year prove promising: 407 municipalities have joined, during 46 emergency situations BE-Alert was used to notify the citizens, and the national database counts already more than 330.000 registred addresses. The crisis centre still wishes to extend this system. That is why a big-scale alert test will be organized July 5th.

  • 25.06.18

    Can't wait to check the tidal data for next year? Thanks to our coast guard partner Coastal Division you can already find the tidal data for 2019 for Nieuwpoort, Ostend, Blankenberge, Zeebrugge, Vlissingen, Prosperpolder, Antwerpen and Wintam at

  • 25.06.18

    Secretary of State for the North Sea Philippe De Backer wishes to introduce a boatman's certificate, as is the case on inland waters, for large or fast pleasure craft on the North Sea to guarantee safety .If you wish to go sailing on the North Sea with a vessel whose lenght exceeds 15 metres or whose speed exceeds 20 kilometres per hour, you are obliged to prove that you can sail by obtaining a cerificate.
    There will be a transitional period and exceptions may be made for jetski's. All certificates that have been obtained before, remain valid. Holders of a certificate do not need to obtain a new certificate.
    These plans form part of the pleasure craft reform. Earlier, the rules for commercial pleasure craft were already simplified.


  • 11.06.18
    PréGuardex®DG Leefmilieu

    April 25th and 26th several our coast guard partners held a joint exercise in the Belgian part of the North Sea.  The so - called pré-guardex exercise must prepare our coast guard partners for a large-scale Guardex exercise that will take place in October of this year. The Guardex exercise is scheduled alongside the summit meeting of the North Atlantic Coast Guard Forum and next to the Belgian coast guard partners, other international assets will also participate.

    The first day of the exercise, April 25th, was dedicated to safety at sea. Different aspects were trained: Search and Rescue operations, anti-pollution techniques, deploying medical teams at sea and bringing victims ashore. The focus of the second day, April 26th, was on security at sea, with the simulation of a terrorist attack. 

    Pictures PréGuardex

  • 17.01.18

    Thursday January 11th, 2018 the secretaries Coast Guard were present at a kick-off meeting regarding the Norther offshore windpark, together with various coast guard partners. The meeting was presided by Captain Gyssens of the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre (MRCC) of our coast guard partner Shipping Assistance Division. In the spring of this year, construction of the wind farm will begin so as to be operational in 2019. After completion, the wind farm will have an installed power of 350 Megawatts and will be the biggest offshore project in Belgium. It will be built at approximately 22 kilometres from the Belgian coast, within a zone southeast of the Thornton Bank, alongside the border with the Netherlands and will provide sustainable energy for about 350 000 households.