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Scientific diving

Since 2009 a working group on scientific diving has been set up at the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO). The working group is composed of representatives of the different universities and scientific institutions concerned by scientific diving activities as well as the managers of the Belgian research vessels Belgica and Simon Stevin.

The objective of the working group is to support and facilitate the scientific diving activity by Belgian scientists. The group will focus amongst others on the operating procedures for a safe practice of scientific diving from the Belgian research vessels.

The working group also focus on the development and management of a course for scientific diving for the Belgian scientific diving community, based on the guidelines of the European Marine Board Panel on scientific diving (ESDP). The course is yearly organised in summer. A call for participation is sent out to all potential interested parties around May.

Participants who fulfil all requirements and have successfully followed the course will obtain the certificate of Belgian Scientific Diver (BSD) or Advanced Belgian Scientific Diver (ABSD). These certificates are fully equivalent to the European standards (ESD or AESD).

Since 2013 the course and the certifications are also recognised by the FPS Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue to be in concordance with the Royal Decree of 23 December 2003 with regard to labour in hyperbaric environments (replaced by the Code Well-being of Workers Book V title 4, Royal Decree of 28 April 2017).

For any information please contact the working group.


Training course on scientific diving techniques 2019:

  • The call for the 2019 training course for BSD and ABSD is open. The training will be held from 8 to 20 September 2019 in Stareso, Corsica.
    Interested candidates should send the application form, duly completed, to "" by the
    7th June 2019 at 17:00 at the latest.

Certification renewal procedure:

  • for all BSD and ABSD:
    • proof of at least 60 dives in the past 5 years of which 30 scientific dives
      A refresh course will need to be taken if no dive activity have been done in the past 18 months.
    • CPR certification (first aid and O2 administration) not older than 2 years at the moment of renewal and delivered by an organisation which takes into account the rules of ERC (European Resuscitation Council).

  • additional for ABSD:
    • proof of at least 5 dive activities at ABSD level in the past 5 years and at least 1 in the past year
      ABSD divers not able to comply with this rule will be renewed at BSD level

    All needed documents (copy of logbook(s), CPR certification, proof of ABSD) need to be sent on time to  

Continuous training at the quarry of Barges (near Tournai):

    The continuous training is an opportunity to be presented with new techniques, to stay up to date with existing techniques and to operate some scientific dives.

    Approximately one day a month the quarry of Barges will be open to the BELSPO Working Group on Scientific Diving.

    The proposed dates and activities for 2019 are:

    07-01-2019: Tape transect of 25-35m long
    22-02-2019: Photo video free subject 
    11-03-2019: Air-lift revisited (comparison various size air-lifts)
    05-04-2019: Fish transect along a given path (5min 30-25 m,
                        10 min 25-15 m, 15 min 15-6 m) during 30 min 
    23-05-2019: Archeological examination of industrial artefact of
                        dive spot 1 (2 dives)
    06-06-2019: Decompression dive - 2 dives
    17-10-2019: Lifting exercice 2 dives
    28-11-2019: Underwater photography of fishes
    12-12-2019: Underwater tablet revisited

    It is foreseen to operate 2 dives during summer and one in winter.

    Participation is restricted to certified scientific divers, with professional medical certification in order (RD 2003, see above) as well as insurance.

    There needs to be at least 4 registered participants for the activity to go on. Registration needs to be sent at least a week before the diving date to with the required documents.


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