Protocols for reporting archaeological finds

During the IWT-project SeArch, Archaeological Heritage in the North Sea, protocols for reporting archaeological finds at sea and in the intertidal zones, river mouths and harbors were developed by the Flanders Heritage agency. This happened in cooperation with the different stakeholders (the dredging sector, aggregate and sand extraction, renewable energy, fishery, ports, the government and tourism…) taking into account the results of an extensive stakeholders questionnaire.

The protocols serve as a mitigation measure in case archaeological finds are discovered. They inform you on the importance of maritime and underwater cultural heritage, the current legislation concerning this heritage, and what steps you should take when archaeological finds are encountered to avoid loss of information.

Mandatory reporting of finds in the Belgian part of the North Sea (territorial sea and continental shelf)

On August 5, 2013 Belgium ratified the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage and from the 1st of June 2014, finds in the Belgian territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone or on the Belgian continental shelf (BCS), must be reported to the governor of West-Flanders, as a result of the publishing and the entering into force of the law of 4 April 2014 concerning the protection of underwater cultural heritage and the Royal Decree of 25 April 2014. Finds can be reported via email or via an electronic form.

More information on finds at sea can be found on the website

Archaeological finds in the intertidal zone, on the beach eg should be reported via the website of the Flanders Heritage Agency. The new law federal law doesn’t apply to the territory of Flanders

Mandatory reporting of finds in a underwater context territorially belonging to Flanders (Beaches, harbors, river mouths and other inland waters)

Under Article 8 of the archeology decree of June 30, 1993 (From April 2016 this will be in accordance with Art. 5.1.4. of the new Heritage Decree of 12 July 2013) archaeological chance discoveries made in the Flemish Region should be reported to the Flanders Heritage Agency (

VLIZ depot and conservation laboratory

In addition to the new legislation, the mandatory reporting of finds and the find protocols a depot and conservation laboratory is being established at VLIZ (Flanders Marine Institute) Marine Station Ostend. ( )