The Scheldt is one of the busiest shipping rivers of Europe. The river and its estuary are of high importance for both nautical (until the port of Antwerp) and inland shipping. Recreational shipping on the Scheldt cannot be neglected either. The industrial areas and Scheldt ports of Antwerp, Ghent, Vlissingen and Terneuzen are the main drivers of shipping on the Scheldt. Every year thousands of ships pass by these ports. The channel Ghent-Terneuzen is also important since it is the connection between the Western Scheldt and the port of Ghent.
In Flanders, a lot of work is currently being done to the Seine-Scheldt connection to have better accessibility and provide better connection with the rest of Europe. This will allow ships to reach the Scheldt from the south. De Vlaamse Waterweg wants to improve the waterway network with the project ‘Seine Schelde Vlaanderen’, which is included in the cross-border project for inland shipping and subsidized by the European Union, to provide an alternative for freight transport on the road.
Most of the research in the Netherlands and Flanders concerning shipping on the Scheldt is policy-supporting. For example, studies are conducted to support nautical management and preparatory studies are carried out for port expansion.
On ‘www.vts-scheldt.net’, you can explore the world of shipping in the Scheldt region. The site provides information on radar systems, shipping assistance, governance and law, and procedures. The Scheldt Radar network (SRK) is responsible for real-time monitoring of shipping traffic and works via a series of traffic control centres and radar stations set up along the entire Scheldt area. It supports the Vessel Traffic Services (VTS), a shipping assistance system, and is managed by both the Flemish and the Dutch government. Additionally, the Joint Nautical Authority (GNA) is responsible for everything concerning traffic management in the area, such as the admission policy that considers channel depth and tidal movement.