Military use

Military activities and exercises regularly take place in the Belgian part of the North Sea (BNS) and in the coastal zone. These include target practice from land towards sea, target practice at sea towards floating targets, detonation  of war materials, exercises in laying, searching for and sweeping mines with several NATO countries, etc. Amphibian, rescue and flight exercises are carried out as well, and Belgian Defence is also involved in search and rescue operations, law enforcement, pollution control, etc. in the BNS (Maes et al. 2005, GAUFRE project BELSPO, Notices to Mariners (NtM) 2021 No. 1, Belgian Defence).

There is also a dump site of war ammunition from the First World War in the BNS. It is located near the coast of Knokke-Heist on the shallow sandbank of the Paardenmarkt. According to OSPAR over 150 such munitions dump sites have so far been identified in the north-east Atlantic (OSPAR QSR 2010). A synthesis of the scientific research conducted into the impact of the ammunition storage on the Paardenmarkt site is available in Missiaen and Henriet (2010). However, in response to the recent detection of chemical pollutants in the water, monitoring efforts increased to get a better picture of the situation and several additional studies are planned in the coming years to work out a sustainable management strategy for the site (FPS Public Health).

More information on the military activities within the BNS and the coastal zone can be found in the thematic chapter on Military use of the Compendium for Coast and Sea.

Marine Spatial Planning