Measurement Service Ostend (MSO) & RV Belgica

The Measurement Service Ostend is responsible for the management of our oceanographic research vessel Belgica, for the measurement frames used at sea and for the management of the recorded extraction data of sand and gravel.


Research vessel Belgica

The Federal Science Policy is the owner of the Belgian oceanographic research vessel Belgica, or RV Belgica. The ship is available to all Belgian scientists to perform scientific research at sea. The OD Nature of the RBINS is responsible for the financial management, the scientific instrumentation and the planning of the scientific campaigns at sea. The Belgian Navy provides the crew and takes care of the operational aspects as well as the moorage in Zeebrugge, RV Belgica's home port.

This research vessel spends up to two hundred days a year at sea. From Monday to Friday the RV Belgica leaves Zeebrugge and sails to all corners of the Belgian part of the North Sea, but also far beyond our national borders with operations in Moroccan, Portuguese, Spanish, French, British and Irish waters. RV Belgica monitors the quality of the North Sea waters by constantly collecting all sorts of data on the biological, chemical, physical, geological and hydrodynamic processes which take place there. In addition to this, the ship is a floating laboratory for researchers from the universities and scientific institutes of Belgium in their quest for a better understanding of the structure and working of the ecosystem of the our seas. Scientists take samples of water, sea bed, living organisms. They test new fishing techniques, investigate the influence of sand extraction on the bottom or look at the effects of windmills on the sea.

Measurement Frames

Scientists put measurement frames on the sea floor for continuous recording of several parameters (current velocity and direction, concentration of sediment in the water…). After a few weeks the frames are recuperated by RV Belgica. The MSO buys the frames and the instruments and organises the anchoring and recuperation. They are also responsible for the processing of the recorded data.

Offshore Sand and Gravel Extraction

Offshore sand and gravel extraction began in Belgium in 1976. Over the years the extraction has increased and currently lies at around 1,600,000m³. There is a growing interest in sea sand, mainly because the existing sand quarries on land are nearing exhaustion. All extraction vessels must be equipped with an automatic recording system, the so-called 'black box'. The black boxes record a number of parameters, such as vessel identification, route, date, time, position, speed, status of pumps, etc. Management of the recording device and data processing is the responsibility of OD Natural Environment on behalf of the Federal Ministry for the Economy. This makes it possible to ensure that the conditions laid down in the concession decision are respected.

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