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Revision of Belgium's Marine Spatial Plan
by Federal Public Service for the Environment (Government)
The Belgian part of the North Sea is one of the most intensively used seas in the world. Shipping, tourism, fisheries, sand exploitation, windmills etc. All these activities make use of what the sea has to offer. However, this myriad of activities causes high pressure. However, it can be a challenge for these diverging activities to co-exist. They may also have an impact on the environment. In order to achieve a balance, the Belgian authorities have adopted the first marine spatial plan for the Belgian part of the North Sea in 2014.

We have committed to making this process cyclical, in order for the plan to be as up-to-date as possible and in order for there to be ample room for coordination on decisions which have a spatial impact on the Belgian marine waters with all stakeholders.

Taking into account SDG14 and in particular SDG14.2, the revision process will pay particular attention to the following internationally recognized principles:
- the precautionary principle: preventive measures must be taken if there are grounds for concern regarding pollution;
- the prevention principle: prevention is better than cure;
- the principle of sustainable management: human activities must be managed in such a way that the marine ecosystem remains in a condition which ensures the continued use of the sea;
- the polluter pays principle: the costs and measures to prevent and fight pollution are to be borne by the polluter;
- the principle of restoration: if the environment is damaged or disrupted, the marine environment must be restored to its original condition as far as possible.

Some environmental measures that have been taken within the marine spatial plan of 2014 were:
- the designation of marine protected areas (MPAs), for birds and habitats protection;
- the European marine strategy framework directive goals as a reference for the MSP (leading to fisheries management zones);
- the realization of some active nature protection measures, in combination with other activities at sea.
Progress reports
By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
Type of commitment
  • Marine Spatial Planning
December 2018
Revision of the Marine Spatial Plan
December 2018
Inclusion of international environmental principles
Staff / Technical expertise
Staff from several ministries are working on this project, incl. Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Fisheries
Basic information
Time-frame: 2017 January - 2018 December
Federal and regional governments in Belgium, in consultation with civil society, academia and the private sector
Ocean Basins
  • North Atlantic
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
All users of the Belgian part of the North Sea, as well as potentially neighbouring countries.
Contact information
Sophie Mirgaux, Ms. , sophie.mirgaux@environment.belgium.be, 0032476862938
Brussels, Belgium
Other SDGs
United Nations