Marine sciences


  • Responsible(s) Federal Science Policy: Vanderstraeten Martine
  • Final decision of the Ministers Council: 25/6/1992
  • Duration of the research: 1/10/1992 - 30/9/1996
  • Budget: 4,709,976.97 EUR
  • Research projects: 12

Accompanying committee:

Agriculture, Public health/Environment, OSTC; Flemish Community, French Community, Walloon Region, Brussels Capital City Region and environmental organisations


The Belgian Marine Sciences Impulse Programme seeks to make a contribution to international research efforts devoted to the protection and sustainable use of the North Sea and the Scheldt estuary, and to the scientific support of national policy on the subject. The complexity of the natural processes and the increasing effect of human activities on these ecosystems explain the multidisciplinary nature of the research programme.

Its objectives are as follows :

1. Scientific objectives

- Acquisition of insight into the physical, chemical and biological processes which govern the North Sea ecosystem.

- Study of the direct and indirect changes which can occur within these processes under the impact of human activities.

- Estimation of the consequences on the social and economic level of such changes, and the policy to be implemented with respect to this.

2. Strategic objectives

- Elaboration of scientific and technical support for the development and implementation of a national and international policy with regard to the North Sea and related areas such as the environment, agriculture, industry, transport, etc.

- Bringing together of Belgian research units drawing from various disciplines in order to create a scientific environment which allows the researchers to address the complex problems posed by the marine environment in a more comprehensive manner.

- Co-ordination of the national research efforts relating to marine sciences (national programmes on Antarctica, Global Change, etc.).

- Promotion of the participation and integration of Belgian teams in international research and co-ordination programmes concerning the marine sciences (MAST, NSTF, etc.)


The research themes are:

- Dynamics of the marine ecosystem:

* heavy metals and organic micropollutants:
° origin, formation, distribution and biological consequences (including on fish) in the estuaries, coastal zones and soil sediments;
° estimation of the pollutant flows, taking into consideration the physical and biogeochemical processes which regulate them;

* eutrophication:
° evaluation and forecast of phytoplankton growth;
° bacterial plankton cycle;
° zooplankton grazing;
° benthos;

- Interactions between the marine ecosystem and the economic and social system:

* identification, quantification and significance of the various factors which contribute to damaging the marine environment;
*definition and implementation of econometric and ecological criteria to quantify the harm suffered by the marine environment;
*evaluation of measures which must be worked out by the government relating to the damage of the marine environment and their economic and social impact.

- Feasibility study concerning a Common Marine Scientific Infrastructure in Belgium.

Research projects:

MS/A1/01: Molecular dynamics of the absorption, accumulation and elimination of metals in marine organisms from the North Sea

MS/A1/02: Marine ecotoxicology: distribution, flows and biological effects of metal pollutants in the Asterias rubens, a key species of the coastal biotopes of the North Sea

MS/A1/03: Pathological and ecotoxicological study of sea birds and sea mammals in the North Sea and adjoining areas

MS/A1/04: Intercompartmental distribution of monoaromatic hydrocarbons (MAH´s) and C1-C2 organochlorinated compounds in the North Sea environment

MS/A1/05: Study of the geochemical cycles of particulate heavy metals and organic micropollutants in the North Sea environment

MS/A1/06: Transfer and behaviour of trace metals in the estuary of the Scheldt

MS/A2/07: Dynamic of eutrophicated coastal systems

MS/A2/08: Structure and function of the benthos in estuarine and coastal ecosystems in relation to current and future anthropogenic influences

MS/A2/09: Modelling and simulation of the grazing pressure of zooplankton in the ecosystem of the North Sea. Practical and theoretical approach

MS/A2/10: Effects of pollution on macrozoobenthos communities in the Scheldt estuary

MS/B/11: Definition and application of ecological criteria and economic indicators for the impact study and cost determination of various types of pollution in the North Sea

MS/B/12: Towards a future Belgian policy for protecting the North Sea. Social and economic consequences


Impulsprogramma "Zeewetenschappen" (1992 - 1996)
Programme d'impulsion "Sciences marines" (1992 - 1996)
  DPWB, 1993 (SP0392)

The belgian impulse programme "Marine sciences" (1992 - 1996)   SPO, 1993 (SP0393)

10 ans Belgica: dialogue entre les scientifiques et les utilisateurs de la mer
10 jaar Belgica: dialoog tussen de wetenschappers en de gebruikers van de zee
  SSTC, 1994 (SP0394)

Le Belgica 10 ans de mer Noel, Luc  SSTC (SP0395)
[To order

De Belgica 10 jaar op de zee Noel, Luc  DWTC (SP0396)
[To order

Dialogue between Scientists and users of the sea: Proceedings of a symposium held on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the civil service oceanographic research vessel Belgica, Ostend, 17-19 october 1994   OSTC, 1996 (SP0397)