Minister Hilde Crevits ambitious during VLIZ Marine Science Day: "Knowledge is the source of sustainability | Compendium Coast and Sea

Minister Hilde Crevits ambitious during VLIZ Marine Science Day: "Knowledge is the source of sustainability

High expectations

On 2 March, Flemish Minister of Science Policy and Fisheries Hilde Crevits addressed more than 400 early-career researchers at the VLIZ Marine Science Day, the annual highlight of marine sciences in Flanders. She emphasized the great interest and high expectations Flanders has in marine research and in how the sea contributes to society.

New figures show that in our North Sea each spot can be used by an average of four different functions. This density at sea is a challenge for its economic users (the so-called Blue Economy) and requires an awareness of the expected social added value of their activities. We look to the sea for healthy fish, preferably with as little bycatch and seabed disturbance as possible. The sea is a source of clean renewable energy, ideally without damaging the marine environment. Shipping and ports are crucial, but preferably with as few emissions and underwater noise as possible. And the coast needs protection from rising sea levels, if at all feasible with a coastal defense mechanism that simultaneously reinforces nature and provides space for tourism and recreation. Each of these challenges requires an excellent scientific knowledge base in order to achieve sustainable solutions.

Growth marine sciences hand in hand with development of Blue Economy

Over the past decade, marine science in Flanders has advanced at a rapid pace. This is evident from the latest, fourth edition of the Knowledge Guide Coast and Sea of the Compendium for Coast and Sea. This key document on the use of our coast and sea shows how knowledge about emerging economic sectors of our North Sea - such as mariculture, nature-based coastal protection or offshore energy - has grown into a solid and mature basis, with also a greater diversity in the way this new knowledge is generated. Increasingly, scientists are collaborating in their research with stakeholders from policy, the Blue Economy or wider society. Such cooperation across the organizational boundaries and disciplines is crucial for putting new insights into practice. 

The Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) coordinates the publication of the Knowledge Guide Coast and Sea, in cooperation with more than one hundred experts.

Involving citizens

Projects with active involvement of industry, policy and social groups are increasingly the norm. Also initiatives with citizens, 'citizen science' projects, are increasingly contributing to marine knowledge. Examples are citizen science actions of VLIZ like de Grote Schelpenteldag (coast-wide annual count of beach shells), SeaWatch-B (continuous monitoring of the North Sea) and ZEEKERWETEN (one-off public festival on how citizens can contribute to the monitoring of fauna and flora).

In the new covenant with the Government of Flanders (period 2022-26), VLIZ has the task of promoting these many forms of cooperation in the field of marine sciences and letting the general public reap the benefits. Pressing issues concerning climate and biodiversity play an important role in this, also in the context of the Decade of Ocean Sciences for a Sustainable Development 2021-2030.

Flemish Minister of Economy, Innovation and Agriculture Hilde Crevits: "Together with Flanders, we are seizing this Decade of Ocean Sciences as the momentum to take important steps in socially relevant marine research and to further convert our growing knowledge into practical sustainable solutions. A strengthened cooperation between governments, citizens, scientists and entrepreneurs is crucial in this respect. Only together can we face our climate and biodiversity challenges. The Flanders Marine Institute takes on a central role in promoting that cooperation and stimulating research across the organizational boundaries and disciplines."


Download Knowledge Guide

Dauwe, S.; Verleye, T.; Pirlet, H.; Martens, C.; Sandra, M.; De Raedemaecker, F.; Devriese, L; Lescrauwaet, A.-K.; Depoorter, M.; Moulaert, I.; Mees, J. (Ed.) (2022). Knowledge Guide Coast and Sea 2022 - Compendium for Coast and Sea. Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ): Ostend. 267 pp. [meer]


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(c) Image: cabinet Minister Crevits  - Government of Flanders