Belgium transfers to Ukraine research vessel for monitoring of Black and Azov seas

Belgium transfers to Ukraine research vessel for monitoring of Black and Azov seas

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Ukrinform
A solemn ceremony of handing over to Ukraine the Belgica research hydrographic vessel, which will be assigned a different name and will fly the Ukrainian flag, took place at a naval base in Zeebrugge.

That’s according to an Ukrinform correspondent.

"Today we saw the handover ceremony of the Belgica research vessel, which will further contribute to researching the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. After the annexation and occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014, Ukraine lost the tools for such research. I am confident that we will restore all capacities and provide valuable information not only to Ukraine, but also to the European Union and for all countries of the Black Sea region," said Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine Roman Abramovsky.

Read also: Ukraine to receive environmental research vessel from Belgium – ecology ministry

He noted that at present there are difficulties with the ship getting to the Sea of Azov as Russia has been creating all sorts of obstacles to free navigation. According to the Minister, the ship will initially operate in the Black Sea, where there’s plenty of work to be done. But already during the transfer from the North Sea to the Mediterranean and further on, to the Black Sea, the vessel will already be conducting important research on pollutants, plastic and microplastic pollution of surface water, then at 3 meters deep, and then of bottom sediments, which will be the basis for scientific conclusions about the quality of these waters.

"Ukraine has signed an Association Agreement with the EU, and one of the tasks the document sets out is the implementation and enforcement of the European Marine Strategy Directive. This vessel will help Ukraine fulfill its obligations and improve the state of the waters of these seas," the Ukrainian official added.

In turn, Belgian Secretary of State for Reconstruction and Strategic Investments, Deputy Minister of Economy and Labor of Belgium Thomas Dermine said he considered the step – the free transfer of the research ship to Ukraine – a manifestation of goodwill by Belgium and its contribution to the environmental protection program.

The Belgian official said the vessel had been operating for over 37 years, spending more than 200 days a year at sea, having covered a distance equal to several circumnavigations, adding that Belgium is happy to contribute to Ukraine’s efforts in researching the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

 According to the participants in the meeting, Belgium has already received a new modern research ship Belgica 2, built in Spain for the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO) to replace the ship handed over to Ukraine.

Read also: Ukraine invites Romania and Moldova to strengthen cooperation in Black Sea

Representatives of Ukrainian scientific circles attending the ceremony said they were currently considering three names for the ship, yet to decide on the one. The new Ukrainian research vessel will be assigned to the port of Odesa, where it is to sail from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge in October this year.

As Ukrinform reported, in July Ukraine and the Kingdom of Belgium signed a memorandum of understanding in the field of water protection and reproduction and rational use of water resources. With this memorandum, the Belgian side confirmed readiness to hand the Belgica research vessel to Ukraine free of charge.

Photo: mepr.gov.ua, Ukrinform

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