The management and operation of the new Belgica is entrusted to the French shipping company Genavir

The new oceanographic research vessel Belgica will be operated by Genavir, specialised in the management of scientific vessels. The manager of the French oceanographic fleet will thus also become the first French shipping company to manage a ship under the Belgian flag.

© Freire Shipyard

As a subsidiary of the French Institute of Marine Research (Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer, IFREMER), Genavir has 45 years of experience in providing services to scientific and state institutions. The shipping company manages, operates and maintains the coastal and offshore vessels of the French oceanographic fleet, as well as the manned submarine Nautile, ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles), AUVs (Autonomous Underwater Vehicles) and other marine scientific research equipment.

“This is a first in Europe and a great recognition of our know-how” says Eric Derrien, Managing Director of Genavir. “We are proud to have been chosen from several European shipowners. The Belgian government has put its trust in us and we are now committed to satisfying the Belgian scientific community and future international users of the vessel”.

With a length of 71.40 m and a width of 16.80 m, the Belgica was first launched on 11 February 2020. The ship is currently being delivered by the FREIRE Shipyard in Vigo, Spain, and the Genavir crew is preparing for the takeover, which should take place in early December 2021. The ship will soon be taken to her home port, the Zeebrugge naval base, where she is expected to arrive before the end of 2021. The Belgica will have the status of an auxiliary ship of the Belgian Navy, and will fly the corresponding flag.

© Freire Shipyard

A combination of strong expertise

The mixed crew will consist of three Belgian naval officers (on secondment at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences), including the first captain Gaëtan Motmans, in addition to officers and sailors from Genavir. The ship will of course remain the property of the Federal Science Policy (BELSPO), and the RBINS will remain responsible for the budgetary management of the ship, the scientific instruments and the programming of the scientific campaigns.

“The award of the contract for the operation of the new Belgica to the operator Genavir is the final step before the ship can set sail for Belgium,” said Lieven Naudts, coordinator of the ‘Measurement Service and RV Belgica’ team at the RBINS. “We are very much looking forward to continuing Belgium’s marine scientific activities with the new Belgica, launching new lines of research and thus remaining at the forefront of European marine scientific research.”

Large working area, low environmental impact

The new BELGICA has all the necessary equipment to carry out scientific campaigns from the polar to the intertropical zone, and from shallow waters to a depth of 5,000 metres.  Its exploration area covers the North Sea, far beyond the Arctic Circle, the Atlantic Ocean as far as West Africa, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Monitoring the state of the Belgian part of the North Sea will of course always remain an important action point.

The vessel is designed as a ‘green ship’, with extremely low emissions due to the treatment of the exhaust gases, thus meeting the strictest contemporary standards (MARPOL Tier III).

Our former Belgica is now named Borys Aleksandrov

The research vessels Belgica and James Clark Ross, which were handed over to Ukraine by Belgium and Great Britain respectively, were given new names on Friday, 29 October 2021. This happened during a ceremony in their new Ukrainian home port Odessa. From now on, the ships will sail the seas under the names ‘Borys Aleksandrov’ and ‘Noosphere’.

Photo: Viktor Komorin/EU4EMBLAS

The renaming ceremony was held in the Odessa seaport, in the presence of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The ceremony was part of a presidential working visit to the city. For Belgium, the honours included Mr Patrick Roose, Director of the Operational Direction Natural Environment of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS).

From her maiden voyage in 1984 until her last scientific campaign in March 2021, the RBINS was responsible for the budgetary management, scientific instrumentation and planning of the RV A962 Belgica’s scientific campaigns. The Federal Science Policy was the proud owner of the ship, and the Belgian Navy provided the crew, operational support and a berth in the home port of Zeebrugge.

After the handover to the Ukrainian authorities on 13 September 2021, a short training period of the new crew and a successful transit to Odessa (during which a complex scientific programme was also carried out), the ship – together with her former British colleague – is today the start of a new Ukrainian scientific fleet. The country has not had such a fleet before. The transfer to Ukraine was made possible by a joint EU/UNDP project, “European Union for Improving Environmental Monitoring of the Black Sea (EU4EMBLAS)”.

Borys Aleksandrov

It was President Zelenskyy himself who announced the new names of the research vessels. The Belgica was renamed in honour of the famous Ukrainian marine biologist Borys Aleksandrov, Doctor and Professor of Biological Sciences and also former director of the Institute of Marine Biology of the National Academy of Sciences. Two years ago, on 4 December 2019, he was tragically killed in a terrible fire at 25 Troitskaya Street in Odessa.

After the renaming ceremony, a roundtable discussion took place on Belgian-Ukrainian marine cooperation, blue economy, and further development of marine monitoring, initiated by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine.

Photo : Dumskaya


The British icebreaker James Clark Ross was renamed ‘Noosphere’. This ship will make marine research near the Ukrainian Antarctic station Akademik Vernadsky possible again for Ukrainian scientists. During the ceremony, President Zelenskyy spoke directly to scientists currently working at this polar station.

The noosphere is supposed to be a new, higher stage in the evolution of the biosphere, connected with the development of society, which has a profound influence on natural processes. Whatever the case may be, the development of the noosphere doctrine is particularly associated with the name of Vladimir Vernadsky, the first president of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences.

Read also:

European Marine Board Future Science Brief “Addressing underwater noise in Europe”

On Wednesday 20 October 2021, the European Marine Board (EMB) launched its Future Science Brief № 7 Addressing underwater noise in Europe: Current state of knowledge and future priorities. The publication focuses on the sources of anthropogenic sounds and the effects of noise on marine organisms and identifies research gaps and recommends priority actions for the development of proportionate mitigation strategies and effective regulation of underwater noise.

The publication can be downloaded from the EMB website and is an official output of the European Marine Board, a strategic pan-European Forum of 35 Member Organizations including key marine research performing institutes, funding agencies and university consortia. The publication was developed by the EMB working group on underwater noise.

About the Future Science Brief

The Ocean presents a cacophony of sounds originating from natural as well as anthropogenic sources. Marine organisms heavily rely on sound to communicate and understand the world around them, and are therefore potentially impacted by anthropogenic sound. However, in developing our Blue Economy and in advancing our knowledge of marine environments and ecosystems, anthropogenic noise is (sometimes) unavoidable. Understanding the potential effects of anthropogenic noise is therefore integral to addressing this conflict, as it is needed to develop proportionate mitigation strategies and effective regulation.

Next to providing an overview of our current knowledge about underwater noise, this publication highlights the priority areas for further research addressing the remaining knowledge gaps about the effects of anthropogenic noise. Furthermore, it points out the relevant actions needed to take in order to ensure ecosystem-based and precautionary legislation.

Download: Addressing underwater noise in Europe: Current state of knowledge and future priorities


The Belgian Federal State is represented in the EMB by the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO) and in the EMB Communications Panel by the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS).

Nourishing Blue Economy and Sharing Ocean Knowledge – Policy Brief with Recommendations for Sustainable Ocean Observation and Management

Ten innovative EU projects to build ocean observation systems that provide input for evidence-based management of the ocean and the Blue Economy, have joined forces in the strong cluster ‘Nourishing Blue Economy and Sharing Ocean Knowledge’. Under the lead of the EuroSea project, the group published a joint policy brief listing recommendations for sustainable ocean observation and management. The cooperation is supported by the EU Horizon Results Booster and enables the group to achieve a higher societal impact. Today, 15 October 2021, the policy brief was presented to the EU.

The ocean covers 70% of the Earth’s surface and provides many ecosystem services that we cannot live without or that improve the quality of our lives. Think of the ocean’s role in climate control and providing the air we breathe and the fresh water we drink, but also of seafood, exploitable inorganic resources (such as sand and minerals), renewable energy, shipping, tourism, etc.

The Blue Economy is estimated to have the potential to further double in size by 2030, but the overall consequences of the intensification of human activities on marine ecosystems and their services (such as ocean warming, acidification, deoxygenation, sea level rise, changing distribution and abundance of fish etc.) are still poorly quantified. In addition, marine data appear fragmented, are inhomogeneous, contain data gaps and are difficult to access. This limits our capacity to sustainably manage the ocean and its resources.

Joining forces in Europe

Consequently, there is a need to develop a framework for more in-depth understanding of marine ecosystems, that links reliable, timely and fit-for-purpose ocean observations to the design and implementation of evidence-based management decisions.

To provide input to the future establishment of such a framework, ten innovative EU projects to build user-focused, interdisciplinary, responsive and sustained ocean information systems and increase the sustainability of the Blue Economy, joined forces in a strong cluster to better address key global marine challenges. Under the lead of the EuroSea project, the group translated its common concerns to recommendations and listed these in the joint policy brief ‘Nourishing Blue Economy and Sharing Ocean Knowledge. Ocean Information for Sustainable Management.’.

By speaking with one voice, the 10 projects jointly strive to achieve goals set out in the EU Green Deal, the Paris Agreement (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and the United Nations 2021-2030 Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Ocean Development.

Toste Tanhua, EuroSea coordinator, GEOMAR: “It was great to collaborate with the other innovative projects and make joint recommendations based on different perspectives and expertise. Together we aim to concretise the value of our scientific and innovative activities so that they can achieve a high social impact”.

The full policy brief can be downloaded here, the recommendations are summarized below.


  1. Create a European Policy Framework for Scientific Ocean Observations Long-term Funding

Both continued observations and improved biological understanding are needed to capture the full range of ocean variability, and assess oceanographic change, its ecological implications and potential impact on humanity. The observation and data delivery mechanisms should be seen as research infrastructure, which require sustainable and adequate funding. Ideally, the outcome would be a framework directive on ocean observations, that would ensure a sustainable support and better coordination of ocean observing and ocean information delivery efforts across Europe.

  1. Support the Professionalisation of the Next Generation of ‘Blue Staff’

The growing Blue Economy will need more highly qualified and skilled professionals, with the Blue Digital Transformation also requiring new skills and competencies. Targeted training programmes for researchers need support. The next generation of “Blue Staff” should also be enriched by expanding efforts to increase participation of less equipped countries, attract more women, encourage young people, spread good scientific practices, facilitate exchange of personnel and attract new users to using infrastructures. This will increase employability in the both the academic and industrial marine sectors.

  1. Transform Data into Knowledge by Investing in IT Observations

The combination of different technologies, which collect different kinds of data, will enable to fill in gaps in knowledge and understanding of the Blue Sector dynamics in terms of ecology, biodiversity, sensitivity to climate change and the potential for sustainable exploitation of ocean resources. Therefore, it is crucial to develop emerging technologies that study and analyse the ocean in greater detail, such as integration of modular marine low-cost sensors in existing Earth Observation Systems, promotion of Internet of Things, exploitation of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning tools, and promotion of European High Performance Computing emphasizing on cloud data storage.

  1. Define Global Standards and Interoperability Practices

The oceanographic community is already developing data standardisation and interoperability, but a more formalised framework is required. This will increase data quality levels and ensure more efficient and sustainable use of ocean data and information. A systemic approach towards interoperability and shared (cross-disciplinary) metadata policy is needed. It should not matter where you submit your data to be able to harvest and multiply its impact globally while keeping provenance tracked.

  1. Strengthening Citizen Science for Policy, Equitable Access, Democratization and Critical Data Contributions

Citizen participation in decision-making should be considered a way to make the policy process more transparent and accessible. By actively supporting citizen science initiatives, policy makers foster scientific education and appeal to a citizen’s natural willingness to contribute to society. Ultimately, marine observation science is made more democratic, and a new type of self-driven, sustainable and cost-efficient observatory concept is created. Mechanisms to provide feedback to citizens also need to be put in place. Citizens must also be equipped with easy-to-use systems to collect and to upload/download data.

The policy brief ‘Nourishing Blue Economy and Sharing Ocean Knowledge. Ocean Information for Sustainable Development‘ was presented today to EU representatives at the EuroSea policy feedback meeting of 15 October 2021.

Extra information

RBINS and Ocean Observation

The Operational Directorate Natural Environment (OD Nature) of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences has a long tradition in ocean observation, and fulfils this role on four levels: 1) the coordination and execution of a monitoring programme for the North Sea, 2) the study of the biotic and abiotic components of seas and oceans, and of the interactions between them, 3) the management and improvement of databases and scientific instruments (including the research vessel RV Belgica, the aerial surveillance aircraft OO-MMM and satellite applications), and 4) advising national and international policy makers and representing the Federal State of Belgium in international policy bodies.

In particular, the expertise of the research group ECODAM (ECOsystem Data Analysis and Modelling; part of RBINS/OD Nature) is closely aligned with the mission of the EuroSea project, and justifies RBINS participation in this project. ECODAM brings together some 25 highly qualified scientists with multidisciplinary backgrounds and carries out scientific research in aquatic ecosystems to improve our understanding of seas and oceans, and to better manage them based on scientific knowledge. Relevant expertise includes physical oceanography and hydrodynamic modelling (for tides, storms, waves, oil pollution, nutrients, phytoplankton, distribution of biological organisms, etc.), aquatic optics and satellite remote sensing, supporting applications and developments of mathematical models at national and international levels, and supporting federal, regional and European administrations and private sector activities.


The 10 participating projects have received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 (H2020) Research and Innovation programme under Grant Agreements: EuroSea 862626; AtlantECO 862923; Blue-Cloud 862409; EU-Atlas 678760; Eurofleets+ 824077; iAtlantic 818123; JericoS3 871153; Mission Atlantic 862428; Nautilos 101000825; ODYSSEA 727277.

Besides EuroSea, the RBINS is also a partner in the Eurofleets+ and JericoS3 projects.

The policy brief ‘Nourishing Blue Economy and Sharing Ocean Knowledge. Ocean Information for Sustainable Development‘ was produced with the support of Trust-IT Services, provider of the Horizon Results Booster funded by the European Commission, Directorate General for Research and Innovation, Unit J5, Common Service for Horizon 2020 Information and Data.

Marine mammals in Belgium in 2020

In a new report, the RBINS summarises the results of the monitoring and research of marine mammals in Belgium in 2020. Relatively few harbour porpoises washed ashore, while seals continued to gain a foothold. A minke whale, two Sowerby’s beaked whales and a leatherback turtle can be considered unusual guests.

As usual, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) has published an annual report on strandings and observations of marine mammals and other protected marine species in Belgium. It summarises the results of research and monitoring in 2020.

The Sowerby’s beaked whale of Nieuwpoort and Wenduine arriving at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Merelbeke, 8 August 2020. © RBINS/J. Haelters

Regular guests

In 2020, 65 harbour porpoises washed ashore, a relatively low number compared to most recent years. Since 2002, only four years had less, and in some years there have been more than 100 washed up specimens. Some live porpoises died shortly after being stranded. The main cause of death of the animals that were studied was predation by the grey seal, a phenomenon that was first described only in 2012.

43 seals washed ashore dead or dying. This was comparable to the previous two years, but significantly more than in the years before that. Incidental catch was the main cause of death in the stranded seals. Sealife took care of 16 seals in distress.

The old well-known grey seal ‘Oscar’ on Nieuwpoort beach, 9 September 2020. © Luc David

Apart from the well-known resting places in the Ijzer estuary and the marina of Nieuwpoort, 2020 saw the emergence of a new haul-out site for seals (both harbour and grey) in Ostend. At first, local politicians did not want to turn Ostend’s Klein Strand into a “zoo”, but soon the animals became a tourist attraction, under the watchful eye of volunteers from the North Seal Team.

Remarkable species

The most notable strandings concerned a minke whale and two Sowerby’s beaked whales. The very young minke whale was already very weakened before it broke its mandibles, died and washed ashore. This was only the eighth documented minke whale in Belgium in the last 20 years. The previous cases involved three carcasses and four observations of live specimens. Sowerby’s beaked whales do normally not inhabit the North Sea and are only seen here very rarely. The strandings in 2020 were only the sixth and seventh known cases in Belgium. It is possible that military exercises in the Atlantic Ocean caused the strandings of this species in Belgium and neighbouring countries.

The unfortunate minke whale of Bredene, 11 December 2021. © RBINS/J. Haelters

The most spectacular catch in 2020 was that of a leatherback turtle: the crew of a coastal fishing vessel was able to return the animal to the sea unharmed.

The 2020 marine mammal report (available in Dutch and French) is the result of the cooperation of the RBINS with SEALIFE Blankenberge, universities and a multitude of scientific institutions, government services, non-governmental organisations and volunteers.

The capture of a sick seal (D2904) on a slipway in Nieuwpoort by a volunteer in cooperation with the local fire brigade, 20 January 2020. © Jean-Marc Rys

Super CEPCO mission over the Skagerrak

The Belgian surveillance airplane OO-MMM successfully participated in the Coordinated Extended Pollution Control Operation (Super CEPCO) that was organized this week by Norway, Sweden and Denmark. During such operations, pollution control airplanes of different North Sea countries join forces and fly for several days over a key maritime risk area. This time the airplanes operated from Oslo and targeted the Skagerrak.

Super CEPCO is a multi-annual regional operation that is organised under the Bonn Agreement, the mechanism of the North Sea States to carry out surveillance as an aid to detecting and combating pollution at sea. The main objective is to perform a continuous monitoring of ship-source marine pollution by oil or other harmful substances which can be traced at the sea surface. The use of satellites for marine pollution monitoring and surveillance is also evaluated, and the chance of catching offenders red-handed is maximised.

The Belgian program of aerial surveillance over the North Sea was started in 1990 by the Management Unit of the Mathematical Model of the North Sea (MUMM), that is now part of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. The scientists equipped a former military Britten-Norman Islander aircraft for scientific assignments, and the Belgian Defense provides the pilots. An efficient cooperation between Science Policy and Defense!

The environmental monitoring instrumentation is constantly updated, keeping Belgium at the forefront of the fight against pollution at sea. By taking part in international missions, our country not only assumes its responsibility in the context of the national coast guard, but also in relation to the larger North Sea. Something we can be proud of!


Plastic pollution in the Belgian North Sea: no alarming amounts of microplastics in fish and shellfish, plastic fibers everywhere and a hotspot near Zeebrugge

More than three quarters of all waste in the Belgian North Sea consists of macroplastics (larger particles of plastic waste), and this is a major source of pollution, especially in the coastal zone. Plastic fibers, mostly from dolly rope (plastic fibers attached to trawling nets), can be found everywhere, even at a distance from the coast. Smaller plastic particles or microplastics of >50 µm (one-twentieth of a mm) also appear to turn up much more frequently along the coastal strip and in ports than further out to sea. This has all been shown by a systematic monitoring study in the Belgian North Sea. Through the MarinePlastics research project, scientists now have the necessary input to set up a macro- and microplastics monitoring plan for the Belgian part of the North Sea, a European obligation.

In the fishing grounds where Belgian fishermen are active, the researchers have also examined commercial fish species and crustaceans for microplastics. There, the numbers are very low to absent. On the basis of this study, the researchers are already calling the fish and crustaceans from Belgian fisheries a safe food source as far as microplastic pollution is concerned.

In addition to marine organisms (fish, crustaceans, etc.), Belgian fishermen also catch all kinds of plastics. © ILVO

The Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), within the research project MarinePlastics, have mapped out how much and what types of plastic occur in Belgian fishing grounds. This involved both larger pieces of waste (macroplastics larger than 5 mm) and small to minuscule plastic particles (microplastics smaller than 5 mm). This research was not optional, but rather an obligation from Europe, which has been demanding since 2012 that every member state collect figures on macroplastics on the seabed. As of 2020, data must also be collected on microplastics in the sediment and in the water. The MarinePlastics project also examined the extent to which microplastics are present in the commercial fish and crustaceans from our fishing areas (North Sea, English Channel, Celtic Sea, Irish Sea). The researchers made a distinction between the plastic particles in the fish stomach (which people do not consume) and the fish fillet (which we do eat).

Belgian Fish Safe to Eat

The results of this research are reassuring: it was found that microplastics >50 µm (this is one-twentieth of a mm; contamination with nanoplastics, i.e. even smaller particles, was not investigated in this project) do not accumulate in commercial fish and crustaceans sampled in fishing areas where Belgian fishermen are active. In almost all fish and crustacean samples (both edible and non-edible parts), the numbers of microplastics were so low that the concentration could not be precisely determined. In only 5 out of 42 fish fillets, 2-6 microplastic particles per 100 g of fish fillet were found, which is not alarming. Thus, the public may be informed that fish and crustaceans from Belgian fisheries are currently a safe food source in terms of microplastic contamination.

Plastic fibres in water from the port of Zeebrugge, filtered through a 100 μm sieve (photographed by microscope). © RBINS/C. De Schrijver

More Microplastics Close to Ports and the Coast

Still, concentrations of microplastics in the seabed and in seawater can sometimes be quite high, albeit variable. In this study, the concentration of microplastics in coastal sediments (near Zeebrugge) was about nine times higher than further out to sea. In seawater, the difference was even more spectacular: water from the port of Zeebrugge and near the coast contained 48 and 10 times more microplastics, respectively, compared to more seaward locations. Currently, there is no monitoring program that follows the evolution of this type of pollution in Belgium. In order to meet the European obligations, a national monitoring program for microplastics must therefore be set up. To this end, the researchers also recommend that the transport of microplastics in the marine environment, possible hotspots and the link with the spread of macro-waste be further investigated (or commissioned).

Karien De Cauwer, KBIN researcher: “This study gives us a good picture of the degree of microplastic pollution near the coast and further out to sea. Based on a good detection methodology, the evolution can be followed up according to European standards. This will allow to evaluate if measures and actions taken are effective. With more knowledge about locations where microplastics might accumulate, more targeted measurements can be taken.”

Plastic Fibers from the Fisheries

Large pieces of waste – macroplastics – make up 77 to 88% of all marine waste in terms of numbers. One item is apparently present everywhere: plastic fibers. The very light monofilaments of dolly rope – the mat of loose threads that are supposed to protect the belly of a trawling net from damage – is the main plastic item that is spread evenly across our part of the North Sea, even further offshore. Heavier plastics (such as crates, bottles and containers) are mainly found near the coast. Important detail: in the Dutch part of the North Sea, there is more pollution from plastic fibers than in the Belgian part. The researchers ask the policy and sector to make it a top priority to find and implement a good biodegradable alternative to plastic dolly rope. Obviously, this not only concerns the Belgian fishing industry, but initiatives should be taken at the scale of the entire North Sea or even Europe.

‘Dolly ropes’, the mats of loose threads protecting the belly of a trawl net from damage, are an important source of synthetic fibres in the Belgian part of the North Sea. © ILVO

Route for Plastic Pollution?

While there may be a link between plastic pollution and fishing, there is no unequivocal causal relationship with fishing intensity. In other words, most litter is not necessarily found in places with most intensive fishing. Nor was a direct link found with sand mining or offshore wind farms. A hotspot of waste was identified at one dredging site, near the port of Zeebrugge. However, it remains unclear whether this is due to the dumping itself, or due to currents or other driving forces. A detailed study of marine litter hotspots is therefore needed, examining the impact of different sources and modeling the transport processes of litter.

Bavo De Witte, ILVO researcher: “In our turbulent North Sea, it is not surprising that sea currents can exert a strong influence on plastic pollution. Through modeling, it should be possible to learn even more about the origin of different waste types.”

The full reports can be downloaded via the following links:

Microplastics in seafood from Belgian fisheries areas – ILVO Vlaanderen

Distribution and sources of macrolitter on the seafloor of Belgian fisheries areas – ILVO Vlaanderen

Marine Plastics project synthesis and recommendations – ILVO Vlaanderen & RBINS

The MarinePlastics research project was funded by the European Fund for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and the Funding Instrument for the Flemish Fisheries.

Belgium, Candidate for the Council of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

Belgium is standing for re-election to the Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in category C. This United Nations organisation is committed to safe and sustainable international shipping. Our country has been a member of the IMO since 1951 and is proud to have contributed to the development of the maritime industry with other countries.

To support our candidature for the IMO Council of 2021, DG Shipping is pleased to share a video presenting Belgium as a maritime nation and highlighting the key points of our motto: “Be sustainable, be safe, be together, be Belgium”.

The promotional video also covers scientific research, monitoring of the marine environment and monitoring of compliance with international rules on air pollution from ships. The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (KBIN) contributed to the video and provided images. The support of the Management Unit of the Mathematical Model of the North Sea (MUMM), and in particular of the airborne surveillance team of MUMM, as well as of scientific divers and various other RBINS teams was indispensable.


In its candidature, Belgium emphasises the following points, among others:

  • promoting inclusive governance
  • managing an increasingly complex maritime space and a wide variety of actors
  • innovating for a sustainable maritime sector
  • implementing IMO regulations and protecting seafarers
  • strengthening the maritime cluster

Vincent Van Quickenborne, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the North Sea: “Shipping is of great importance to our economy. At the same time, we are strongly committed to the protection of the seas and oceans. In this way, our country plays a leading role at an international level in reducing emissions. Our North Sea is itself part of an ECA (Emission Control Area) in which we use our sniffer aircraft to strictly monitor emissions of nitrogen, sulphur and, this year, black carbon. Our ambition is to reduce CO emissions by 55% by 2030 and achieve zero emissions by 2050. That is why it is important for us to remain in the cockpit of the IMO. In this way, we can make a real difference in the development of a sustainable maritime policy.”

Peter Claeyssens, Director General of Directorate General Shipping: “The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) sets the rules for a safe navigation and the protection of our seas and oceans. As a prominent maritime nation, Belgium is strongly committed to safe and environmentally friendly shipping. This is why Belgium wants to be at the wheel of this organisation to make a difference in the ongoing development of a sustainable maritime mobility worldwide.”

The elections will take place in London during the 32nd ordinary session of the Assembly, which will be held from 6 to 15 December 2021.

More information on the IMO Council and the Belgian candidature is available here.

Source : FPS Mobility and Transport