The nautical zones of our coast increase by more than half: from 5.9 to 9.2 kilometres. This is not a superfluous luxury, because it has been known for some time that water sports are becoming more and more popular. Some 29,000 athletes are members of a club, which means that it is increasingly dense in the sea areas reserved for them.
Kayaking, (wind)surfing, sailing, rowing, wakeboarding… The growing popularity of water sports in all its forms has various causes.
“Icons like Evi Van Acker and Emma Plasschaert, increasingly in the spotlight, have certainly inspired young people to follow in their footsteps. Plus it’s all gotten a little cheaper, partly because of the cheaper registration of pleasure craft,” says Vincent Van Quickenborne, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the North Sea, who took the initiative to study the possibility of additional space in collaboration with the sector.
half the space
Until recently, a total of 5.9 kilometers of space was reserved for water sports in De Panne, Koksijde, Nieuwpoort, Middelkerke, Ostend, Bredene, De Haan, Blankenberge and Knokke-Heist. After consultation with the coastal authorities and the various partners, these zones have already been extended to eight coastal municipalities.
Only in Knokke the plans have yet to be finalized. In Koksijde, Bredene and De Pannen they use a specific winter/summer plan, in which the space is adapted according to the season. Thus, water sports enthusiasts can now enjoy 9.2 kilometers of open space in the North Sea during the summer months.
“If water sports enthusiasts cannot use the necessary space, it is detrimental to their safety and their sense of experience”
Alain Lescrauwaet, director of Wind & Watersport Vlaanderen, is already satisfied: “Water sports enthusiasts are passionate about their sport because it creates a certain feeling of freedom and unity with nature/water. If water sports enthusiasts cannot use the necessary space, it not only destroys their sense of experience, but also reduces safety. If there are more and more water sports enthusiasts, more space is really needed to guarantee a safe water sports area!
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