Guy De Vleeschouwer, head expert Fishery Watch with the Sea Fisheries Service:
“When monitoring sea fishery, we take up a ‘hidden’ position in the anchorage area between big cargo vessels. We keep a close eye on the radar to see if everyone abides by the law. By means of a rhib (rigid hull inflatable boat) we board the fishing vessel we wish to inspect. We check if they have the required documents and fishing permits. We also take a look in the hold and measure the nets to make sure the meshes (‘holes’ in the net) are big enough.”
Sea Fisheries Service in Ostend is part of the Agriculture and Fisheries Department and assists with outlining policy regarding Sea Fisheries topics as well as taking care of the follow-up and supervision on established measures.
Sea Fisheries Service defines measures regarding quota and can close fishing areas when necessary. Registering, analysing and publicising data on quota, market prices and gasoline prices is also one of its responsibilities. Furthermore they publish a yearly survey of the catch and profits of Belgium’s fishing fleet and other reports on sea fishery.
They regulate and hand out fishing permits. The permits are adapted to the engine power and tonnage (size) of the fishing vessels.
An inspection cell supervises compliance with regulation, by means of a satellite positioning system for fishing vessels, set up in Ostend. The inspections at sea are regularly carried out together with other coast guard partners. The fisheries inspections in the Belgian part of the North Sea are carried out in cooperation with the navy, Fleet and the surveillance aircraft of the Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models (MUMM).
A social support system is run by a chaplain and a social worker, both attached to the Sea Fisheries Service and the Fund for Cabin Boys offers financial support.