A number of species, which previously occurred commonly in our seas are now endangered. Through the implementation of the Habitat and Birds Directives, but also other international agreements, the policy focuses on an efficient protection of the endangered species in the Belgian part of the North Sea.
• Through the implementation of the Royal Decree of 21st December 2001 concerning the species protection in the maritime regions under the jurisdiction of Belgium, the following species are strictly protected:
- all cetaceans (for instance, the harbour porpoise);
- the common seal;
- the grey seal;
- a number of bird species such as, divers, scoters, grebes, terns;
- a number of fish species.
Thus, the harbour porpoise, the most important small cetacean in our North Sea is protected by the prohibition of recreational gillnet fishery. A fact: stranded harbour porpoises can be reported to the Administrative Unit of the Mathematical Model of the North Sea and the Scheldt estuary (MUMM).
• This Royal Decree also regulates the introduction of non-indigenous species in our maritime regions.
• A number of species in our North Sea are also protected by the Common Fisheries Policy and by CITES (which regulates the trade in the endangered species).
The North Sea and the protected marine habitats (sand banks, reefs) have been since the last century affected by various influences. This in turn affected species as they form a functional part of the natural habitats and can best be protected if the marine environment, as such, is sustainably managed. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive forms the basis and special protection is ensured in the Natura 2000 sites.
More information about the endangered species of the Belgian part of the North Sea can be found in the brochure "Belgian North Sea - Living Water".