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 In this section
Emergency interventions
 Related links
Aerial surveillance
MUMM's aircraft
Combatting pollution
Bonn agreement
See also:
Coast guard service
 Technical info
Available material (PDF, in Dutch, 458KB)
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Emergency interventions

The Belgian coast lies in the continuation of the Dover Strait, which is one of the busiest shipping routes in the world, with some 250 vessels crossing it every day. Heavy maritime traffic may be observed moving towards the ports of Ostend, Zeebruges, Ghent and Antwerp, or to other large European Harbours such as Rotterdam or Hamburg.

If an environmental incident occurs at sea, the 'North Sea Disaster Plan', presided by the Governor of Western Flanders, is activated.

The Belgian Navy's operational command centre (COMOPSNAV) in Zeebruges is the international contact point according to the procedures described according to the Bonn Agreement. International emergency messages are transmitted to the MRCC (Marine Rescue & Coordination Centre) in Ostend. Depending on the gravity of the incident, the MRCC in Ostend decides to implement or not the emergency plan.

The main role of MUMM in this context is to provide scientific advice on all environmental issues.

Airborne assistance is provided by means of the MUMM surveillance aircraft, which can drive recovering pollution units as well as visually assess the impact on the marine environment. Should, for instance, a vessel run aground, MUMM takes steps to avoid pollution by taking part in refloating operations.

In the event of oil pollution, the use of dispersing chemicals may be considered.

It will occur only if it can be proved that this chemical treatment brings an overall reduction in the adverse effects of the pollution on the marine environment, compared with the natural dispersion process and other methods of fighting pollution (floating booms, adsorbing material, etc.).

MUMM has the knowledge, experience and resources required to assess the need for and the effects of using dispersants. MUMM is the competent body to authorise the use and spreading of chemicals in the marine environment to combat a major pollution. Samples are also taken from a ship in order to estimate the influence of pollutants on fauna and flora.

Left: Example of a floating boom. Right: Ship recovering oil.

MUMM also simulates the behaviour and development of pollution over time by computer. In addition, the model can support the search for the polluter, a complex task in this area of heavy traffic.

Since June 2001, Belgium has major resources at its disposal to fight pollution at sea. These include floating booms, skimmers and storage tanks. These resources are adapted to recover oil on the open sea, in coastal waters and from the water edge. The European Commission has set up an information network working via internet enabling each member State to find out which antipollution resources are available in which member States.

 Resources available to combat pollution (PDF, in Dutch, 458KB)

Coastal forecast

1.08 m
3.44 m
 Table Graph North Sea animation Belgian coastal zone animation

Harmonic prediction 
Ostend 1980–2020:
Enter as YYYY-MM-DD
 Speed 8.90 m/s 
 Sector 65° , ENE 
 Table Graph Line plot North Sea animation
 Height 1.18 m
 Table Graph North Sea animation
 Graph ploar plot Line plot North Sea animation Belgian coastal zone animation
 Graph Daily maps
 Graph Daily maps
  Daily maps

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 MUMM is a department of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences