The coast guard keeps an eye on the sea

Coast guard


  • 23.08.16

    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. -

  • 19.08.16

    Our coast guard partner Fleet is looking to hire a cook on board its vessels in the area Ostend/coast. Apply before August 31st.
    More information:

  • 18.08.16

    A warm and sunny day? Lots of people and atmosphere along the coast. What's not to like? All the cigarette stubs left behind on the beach, that's what. It can take up to 12 years to break down a cigarette stub and because they contain non-biodegradable plastic, they can never be completely 'digested'. Not very pleasant for other beachgoers, and also harmful to birds and fish. 

    That is why the province of West-Flanders, together with Westtoer and Eneco Beach Clean Cup started with the distribution of free beach ashtrays in all coastal municipalities. You can get them in surfclubs, beach bars, lifeguard posts and the tourism offices. 

    They are made of carboard and can contain 10 cigarette stubs. After usage, they can be thrown in the bin. No more excuses to leave your cigarettes behind on the beach! 

  • 17.08.16

    Friday August 19th, our coast guard partner Defence opens the doors of the aerial base of Koksijde to the public. You are welcome from 1pm to 5pm to come and admire the famous Seaking helicopters and their NH90 successors.

    Should you have energy left after that, you can participate to the Runway Run at 7pm. The proceeds go to charity and there are maiden flights to be won. 

    More information and 

  • 12.08.16

    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.

  • 12.08.16

    During the first two weeks of July, the Federal Truck, where specialist of various governmental authorities are present to answer your questions, did a tour along the Belgian coast. Missed your chance to visit? No worries, from August 15th you get a new chance. You can meet two of our coast guard partners: Marine Environment Division of FPS Public Health has a campaign about the protection of the North Sea and FPS Mobility and Transport has a campaign on the new rules for watersports.

    See here where and when you can visit.

  • 09.08.16

    During the month of July, the lifeguards reunited 714 lost children with their parents or supervisors. Thanks to the wristbands that most children wore, the lifeguards were able to help quickly. The wristbands are distributed freely by IKWV (Intercommunal for Coastal Lifeguard Services in West-Flanders) and you can get them at tourism offices, first aid posts or newspaper shops along the coast.

    Read also: 'What should I do when my child has got lost on the beach?'

  • 04.08.16
    Rescue exercise

    Wednesday August 3rd, the governor of West-Flanders organized an exercise to test the procedure for saving drowning persons along the Belgian coast. It was the second exercise of this summer and it was held off the coast of Oostduinkerke (a sub-municipality of Koksijde). A first exercise took place earlier this summer in De Haan. The same scenario was followed, but contrary to the De Haan exercise, the weather was not as good, which made the operation more challenging.  Everything went smoothly and all the partners concerned, including some of our coast guard partners, got to play a part. In September, a third and last exercise will be held in Knokke. 

  • 28.07.16

    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.

  • 18.07.16

    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 (limited number) or (massive number). 

    Read more on being stung by a jellyfish

    Thanks to: Francis Kerckhof, RBIN/OD Nature