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Land-based pollution
Activities at sea
Emergency interventions
Nature conservation and biodiversity
Recent legislation
Marine management atlas
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Combatting pollution
Bonn agreement
The North Sea
Belgium's eleventh province
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Coast guard service
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Management of the marine environment

The marine ecosystem suffers various forms of contamination and pressure resulting from human activities. Protecting and constantly improving the quality of this ecosystem is a matter for everyone and a number of cooperation and consultation mechanisms are applied in this area.

It has become customary to make a distinction between these forms of contamination and pressure, depending on whether they are land-based or are due to the effects of activities undertaken at sea or the consequences of accidents. However, there is an increasing trend in favour of adopting an integrated approach aimed at preserving nature and protecting biological diversity.

When you look at a sea chart you realise that nothing can be done without real international cooperation. And this is most effective at 'regional' level, which for us means the north-east Atlantic and the North Sea. The key instruments in this context are the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (Paris, 1992), the Bonn Agreement for cooperation in dealing with pollution of the North Sea by oil and other harmful substances (1983) and the system of International Conferences on the Protection of the North Sea.

MUMM leads the Belgian delegation at these fora. Consequently it has to define the Belgian positions beforehand, uphold them in meetings and ensure that the decisions taken are implemented, in particular by means of appropriate legislation.

Within the European Union, various actions have also been taken or are under discussion which have an indirect or direct impact on the quality of the marine environment. Among these, the framework directive on water 2000/60/EC is an important new factor in marine environmental policy. During the Belgian Presidency (second half of 2001), MUMM piloted a draft recommendation on the implementation of a system of integrated management of the coastal areas in Europe. A political agreement was reached during the Council of Environment Ministers on 29 October 2001.

The North Sea is an open sea, accounting for just a small proportion of the oceans covering the planet, and the governing system, which is established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This justifies the fact that certain initiatives have a worldwide dimension. Debates and discussion are held on these initiatives within specialised United Nations Agencies, such as the International Maritime Organisation, in which MUMM takes an active role through the Marine Environmental Protection Committee. Furthermore, the oceans are the subject of Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 from the Rio Conference (1992), which MUMM assesses on a regular basis as far as Belgium is concerned. Finally, it takes part in the preparation mechanism for the annual debate of the United Nations General Assembly on the oceans.

The topics dealt with only very rarely cover one sector, and therefore in Belgium they require in-depth consultation with the other competent federal departments and the Regions. This is organised primarily in the context of the 'North Sea and Oceans' steering group of the Coordinating Committee for International Environment Policy, chaired by MUMM and for which it provides the secretariat - the annual reports are available. Operational coordination takes place within the Coast Guard structure laid out by the cooperation agreement of July 8, 2005.

Coastal forecast

0.49 m
5.04 m
 Table Graph North Sea animation Belgian coastal zone animation

Harmonic prediction 
Ostend 1980–2020:
Enter as YYYY-MM-DD
 Speed 7.85 m/s 
 Sector 250° , WSW 
 Table Graph Line plot North Sea animation
 Height 1.29 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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