The coast guard keeps an eye on the sea

Coast guard


  • 02.08.17
    Aerial Surveillance

    In 2016 our coast guard partner MUMM/ Operational Directorate Natural Environment - Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences flew a total of 273 hours on missions to observe the North Sea from the air. The operators detected 33 instances of pollution caused by vessels at sea: 13 operational discharges and 20 accidental discharges. They also investigated sulphur emissions at sea: 120 vessels were suspected of emitting high levels of sulphur from their exhausts.


  • 26.07.17
    Border control pleasure craft

    Due to a EU directive, from now on the Maritime and River Police will closely monitor the pleasure craft to and from third countries (=non-Schengen destinations). 

    This means that the crew of yachts departing from a Belgian harbour to a non-Schengen country (Great-Britain) are to report to the border crossing point of the Maritime and River Police in the port of origin. Pleasure craft coming from a non-Schengen country, have to call at a port that is a designated border crossing point and report to the Maritime and River Police based in said port.

    In both instances, you need to hand over a document containing all technical characteristics of the vessel and the names of all persons aboard. A template for this document can be found in the Notices to Mariners nr 1(Annex 2) and can also be found on the nautibel website

    All marinas along the Belgian coast are recognized Schengen border crossing points.

    More information in Notices to Mariners nr 1 and 

  • 26.07.17
    Surveillance airplane MUMM

    After ten years of loyal service, the surveillance airplane of the MUMM (Operational Directorate Natural Environment, Science Policy Office) deserved a new coat of paint!

    Over the years, the airplane's taksks diversified: from almost exclusively monitoring vessel discharges, to a broad array of operations, focussing on 'maritime surveillance' in cooperation with other coast guard partners. To mark and to highlight this evolution, the surveillance airplane will from now on be recognizable as an official Coast Guard platform with matching logo and the typical colors and striping. For more information on the Belgian programme for surveillance of the North Sea, see

  • 25.07.17
    TTX exercises drowning persons

    On 16, 23 and 24 March 2017, three table top exercises were held to test the procedure for saving drowning persons, all under the supervision of West-Flanders governor Carl Decaluwé. This year the coastal municipalities of Westende, Nieuwpoort and Zeebrugge took part.

    These are exercises without a real deployment of any emergency services/means. A crisis situation is simulated based on a realistic scenario and the participants work out on paper how they would operate on site and in real time. Numerous (coast guard) partners participated as well as the coast guard secretaries who acted as observors.

  • 20.07.17
    New shipping routes

    New shipping routes for the Belgian and the Dutch (southern) part of the North Sea came into effect June 1st 2017.

    The North Sea is one of the busiest and most intensively used seas in the world. For certain areas, no fixed routes existed along the Dutch and Belgian coast.Therefore the Netherlands and Belgium jointly adapted their shipping routes.
    The new routes will help ships to navigate efficiently, will improve safety at sea and will reduce the risk of
    environmental pollution. The shipping routes will be advertised internationally and will be incorporated in the official nautical charts. 

    More information on the website of our coast guard partner Federal Public Service (FPS) Mobility and Transport.

  • 23.03.17

    On our planet, no beach remains where you won't find any plastic. If pollution continues at this level, by 2050 there will be more plastic found in oceans than there will be fish swimming. High time to do something about it! On the first sunday of spring, you can do your bit and help other volunteers clean up the beach all along our coast. March 26th, from 2pm tot 6pm, the Eneco beach cup takes places in cooperation with the surf clubs.  

    Information and registration on 

  • 22.03.17
    Charter Marina Information Network

    March 15th, 2017 the Marina Information Network was officially launched with the signing of a charter.

    Our coast guard partner the Maritime and River Police initiated this project and signed the charter together with the governor of West-Flanders, the local police and fifteen yacht clubs from Ostend, Nieuwpoort, Blankenberge and Zeebruges. The information network ensures more efficient communication by means of a central hotline. This means that there will be a swifter response in case of theft or smuggling and thus contributes to safer marinas. This network is a first for the province of West-Flanders and should be fully operational in a few months time.

  • 07.03.17
    Herdenking Herald 30 jaar

    March 6th, 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster, in which 193 people died when a ferry capsized off the coast of Zeebrugge on its way to Dover in the UK. The disaster claimed 193 lives.

    A special remembrance ceremony was held at Zeebrugge, including three ships sailing out to the site of the accident to pay tribute to the victims.

    Several of our coast guard partners offered their assistance to organize this remembrance. Most of them also attended an academic session on safety at sea that took place after the ceremony in the naval base at Zeebrugge. The coast guard secretaries were also present.

    More pictures.

  • 27.02.17

    Friday February 24th 2017, the first meeting of the Coast Guard consultation body for this year took place under the chairmanship of West-Flanders governor Carl Decaluwé. Items on the agenda included the Emergency and Intervention Plan Mass Evacuation and environmental issues. Feedback from the working group windmill parks was discussed and the necessary attention was given to progress made with relation to the coast guard centre project. 

    After the meeting, a working visit of international oil combating organizations International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited (ITOPF) and Oil spill Response Limited took place. The coast guard partners explained the structure of the General Emergency and Response Plan for the North Sea.

  • 02.02.17

    January 22nd 2017 a very rare marine mammal, a dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima) was spotted near Ostend.

    That Sunday, during a trip at sea in the Belgian part of the North Sea for observing marine mammals and seabirds, about 90 porpoises (Belgium's most common cetacean), were observed. One animal raised some doubt as to whether belonging to the same species. After the trip, the photos were thoroughly examined by Belgian and foreign specialists.

    Conclusion: it is not a porpoise, but a dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima). The dwarf sperm whale can attain a length of 2.7 m (larger than a harbour porpoise which is usually 1.8 m). It is rare for the dwarf sperm whale to be seen in Europe. The January 22 observation was the first in Belgian waters. 

    More information on the website of our coast guard partner Operational Directorate (OD) Natural Environment/Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models (MUMM):