The Belgian part of the North Sea is one of the best studied sea areas in the world. The marine spatial plan (MSP, Royal Decree of 20 March 2014) also stipulates that marine research is permitted everywhere, unless otherwise stipulated, which imposes a prohibition or condition.
This strong scientific anchoring is also reflected in an analysis of the marine research landscape. In 2017, for example, Belgium had 115 marine research groups (MRGs). 22% of the publications for which the study area could be identified (period 2008-2016) had a regional focus (i.e. Belgian coastal zone, BNS, Southern bend of the North Sea and Scheldt) (Pirlet et al. 2017). The MRGs also have an extensive range of marine research infrastructure. Belgium has two fully-fledged research vessels (RV Belgica, RV Simon Stevin). The VLIZ also manages the Ostend Marine Station (MSO), which functions as a satellite laboratory at sea for all Flemish marine scientists and is also used in the context of large European infrastructure networks such as LifeWatch, ICOS and EMBRC.
In addition to research, the BNS also has a well-developed monitoring component. There are various buoys, poles, radars and masts that collect data on wave height, wind force, tides, etc. on a permanent basis: Meetnet Vlaamse Banken. Furthermore, numerous monitoring activities are carried out within the framework of international and European obligations (OSPAR, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, Water Framework Directive). Monitoring and research results can be consulted via the themes 'Marine life' and 'Environment'.
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