The coast guard keeps an eye on the sea

Coast guard


  • 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

  • 13.07.16
    Rescue exercise De Haan 4 juli 16

    Monday July 4th 2016, the governor of West-Flanders organized an exercise to test the procedure for saving drowning persons along the Belgian coast. The communication and participation between the different coast guard and other partners on land, at sea and in the air was tested.

    The scenario of the exercise was as follows: six friends are on a rafting expedition at sea. One of them suddenly becomes ill, which causes another friend to dive into the sea and try to swim to the shore. With some difficulty he reaches the shore and is able to raise the alarm. The exercise knew an early end, because the raft was quickly located and rescued. It was not even necessary to deploy the rescue helicopter despite the fact that this was anticipated in the scenario.

    Two exercises are still to come in August and September. 

  • 13.07.16

    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. However, not everywhere the same rules applied, which could cause some confusion. Now it is forbidden to use gillnets all along the Belgian coast. Sports fishermen can still use fyke nets, trawls or flat nets.

  • 02.06.16
    Demonstratie oliepollutiebestrijdingsmateriaal

    June 1st, a demonstration of a dispersant unit and a sweep-arm system for combating oil pollution took place in the presence of Philippe De Backer, the new secretary of state for the North Sea. Dispersants are chemical products, more in particular detergents that are specifically used for combating oil at sea.

    Before starting the demonstration, the secretary of state and his companions headed for the Flinterstar wreck site to witness the salvage works.

    Several coast guard partners took part: Directorate - General Environment was responsible for the coordination, Civil Protection delivered the equipment, Fleet deployed the multifunctional buoy-laying vessel Zeetijger and the ministry of Defence deployed the patrol vessel Castor. The governor of West-Flanders and the coast guard secretary were also present.

    Special thanks to the ministry of Defence for the pictures. 

  • 26.05.16
    Ostend at Anchor

    From May 26th until May 29th Ostend at Anchor is back in town. This year's theme is the fishery folklore. Next to the 160 participating vessels, the exhibitions and music performances, you can also meet a number of our coast guard partners: the agency for Maritime Services and Coast (MDK) and Customs and Excise.  

    More information: and


  • 12.05.16

    Today, May 12th, a meeting of the working group windmill parks took place in Ostend. This working group was erected in 2008 under the coast guard structure's patronage and meets regulary. The working group was founded because it was not always easy for wind mill operators to find their way in the tangle of governmental authorities. It is also a means for the coast guard partners to keep each other informed of new developments and to balance their advice and/or directives.

    One of the topics of today's meeting was the research into the creation of a Modular Offshore Grid (MOD). Until now, all North Sea wind farms are connected individually to the onshore grid. With the creation of a modular offshore grid or ‘power socket’, wind farms will be connected to a high-voltage substation located on an offshore platform, which will, in turn, be connected to the onshore grid.

  • 10.05.16

    This year 750 000 wristbands with Piet Piraat and Maya the Bee are available. On the beach you can get the wristbands from the lifesavers and there is always a bag with wristbands to be found at the bottom of the lifesavers' chair. You can also get the wristbands at the tourism offices, the first aid posts or the newspaper shops along the coast. Fill in the name of your child, the location and your mobile phone number, so lost children can be reunited quickly with their parents.

  • 09.05.16
    Unguarded area

    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 dangerus because of the strong currents and whirlpools. 

    Find the different flags and signs here.

  • 04.05.16
    RBINS - Narwhal

    On 27 April 2016, a dead narwhal was found in the river Scheldt, near the sluice of Wintam (Bornem). This is the first record of a narwhal in Belgium. Narwhals usually stay north of the 70° North latitude, and their home range includes arctic waters of Russia, Greenland and Canada. An autopsy was carried out on the stranded narwhal in a joint effort by scientists of our coast guard partner the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), the University of Ghent and the University of Liège. The Institute also keeps a database with sightings and beachings of seals and other sea mammals.

    Curious about the results of the autopsy?