Site details

WESTERN COASTAL BANKS
(lookup in gazetteer)
Flag of Belgium
Belgium
Conservation
status
5 stars - Fully protected as a national park or Natura 2000 site by national legislation
Normal Focal Site



Map type: Google Maps  SVG (dynamic)  Image (static)

Coarse sandy offshore sandwave, enriched with shell hash. Photo: S Degraer

Synoptic description of site:

A bathymetrical and hydronamical highly diverse, nearshore sandbank-swale system composed of clay to coarse soft-sediments.

Extensive description of site:

The Western Coastal Banks (Ramsar area) comprise a representative collection of the main habitats of the sandbank ecosystems, typical for the Southern Bight of the North Sea. Because of the high geomorphological and hydrodynamical diversity, a wide variety of soft-sediments is found: tertiary clay layers and from muddy sands to coarse sand and shell hash banks. Except for gravel beds, all types of bottoms, present on the Belgian Continental Shelf, are found at the site. Two offshore places have a depth of little below 0 m MLLWS and are exposed to the air a few times a year.

Habitats present:
 MudSandRock
Littoral X 
SublittoralXX 
Seagrass beds 

Description of fauna and flora:

The geomorphological - sedimentological diversity is directly responsible for the high benthic species richness of the area. The meio-, macro-, hyper- and epibenthic fauna is well documented (e.g. macrobenthos data since the late 19th century). Numerous seabirds (e.g. common scoter) occur in internationally important numbers.

Pristiness: Moderate

Justification:

Despite time-restricted fisheries (mainly sole and shrimp) and touristic shipping, the area is free of sand extraction, dredging activities, dumping sites, commercial shipping and artificial hard substrata.

Human impact:

There are time-restricted fisheries (mainly sole and shrimp) and touristic shipping, but the area is free of sand extraction, dredging activities, dumping sites, commercial shipping and artificial hard substrata.

Facilities:

All facilities for marine biodiversity research are available (e.g. seagoing research vessels and fully equipped laboratories).

Available database and website:

Except for the century old data (hosted by the Royal Belgian lnstitute of Natural Sciences), all data are available in electronic databases. All main research organisations have their own websites.

Links:

Commitment and ongoing research:

Within the framework of several federal and regional scientific projects, the Marine Biology Section (Ghent University) is investigating the meio-, macro-, hyper- and epibenthos in the area. Seabirds are studied by the Institute of Nature Conservation. Population genetics of epibenthic fish and mysids are covered by the Catholic University of Leuven and Ghent University.

Involvements:
Additional Information:

A map of the proposed area and an extensive list of references are available as hard copies.