The control of sand mining comprises two sections:
Control of the activity
All the mining boats that operate in Belgium must keep a logbook. In it, the ship's captain makes a note of all the relevant information concerning each mining operation. Since the end of the 1990s, this control has been facilitated by the existence of an automatic recording system. Also, checks may be performed at sea or in ports.
Control of the impact of mining on the marine environment
Every year, measurement campaigns are organised aboard the research vessel RV Belgica in order to observe the consequences of mining on the marine environment. Three bodies perform jointly this research: (1) the Continental Shelf Service, (2) the Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) and (3) the Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models (MUMM – Department of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science (RBINS)).
The Continental Shelf Service uses a Kongsberg EM3002D multibeam echo sounder aboard the RV Belgica to generate a detailed map of the seabed. These maps allow the impact of mining on the seabed's morphology to be evaluated. The multibeam echo sounder also allows the nature of seabed sediment to be determined. After measurements at sea, the data is subject to detailed study (corrections, controls and filtering) and modelling. After processing the bathymetric data which provides information about depth, it is possible to follow the evolution of the seabed precisely in the sand extraction zones. In this way, it is possible to evaluate the effects of mining.
In addition to the impact on the seabed, the impact of sand mining on the biology of the marine environment is studied by scientists from ILVO. Finally, the MUMM studies the ecosystem of the North Sea using mathematical modelling techniques. If a model corresponds to what has been observed, it can be used for management and for certain forecasts.