A number of areas are selected in the Belgian part of the North Sea to protect the endangered species and habitats:
• three Birds Directive Areas (Special Protection Zones SPZ1, SPZ2 and SPZ3);
• the Habitats Directive Area “Vlaamse Banken”;
• the RAMSAR area “Western coastal banks” lying between Oostend and the French border to a depth of 6 m that is designated for the scoters and grebes (Melanitta nigra, Melanitta fusca, Somateria molissima and Podiceps cristatus) that live there;
• the nature reserve "Baai van Heist", an area of approximately 0,65 km² bordering the Flemish beach reserve "Baai van Heist" and is situated along the Eastern breakwater of the port of Zeebrugge.
Policy plans are drawn up for these areas. The Marine Environment service works with scientists and stakeholders to draft the conservation objectives (for which a scientific report is prepared) and to design measures to improve the condition of the endangered species, the sandbanks and the reefs.