Although Belgium is the smallest North Sea country with the shortest coastline (only 67 kilometers), it has a long history of marine research in which scientists try to understand its diversity and complexity.
In 2010, the Flanders Marine Institute undertook efforts to compile the first species list for the Belgian marine waters (BeRMS). Information was extracted from already existing initiatives and a new literature search was started to further complete the list.
A whole range of field experts were asked to help verify the geographical spread of all species listed by literature to occur in the Belgian part of the North Sea. This quality check identified some species as 'extinct in Belgian marine waters', 'vagrant', ... For some species groups, research is very limited within Belgium. For these groups, the species list is solely based on literature where the geographical distribution remains unverified. For other species groups research is lacking (like bacteria) or the taxonomy is under high debate (like Bacillariophyta and Protozoa). Although in this sence incomplete, this register represents the most complete list of marine species occurring in the Belgian part of the North Sea at the moment. Additional efforts will be undertaken to list all known species of the coastal zone, including the salt marshes, mud flats, dunes, and brackish areas (Scheldt estuary).
A publication lists all known species for the Belgian part of the North Sea and the beach up till (but not including) the dune front, after verification by field experts. Now an updated version of this list is consultable at all times via the website of the Belgian register of Marien Species.