Annual figures 2020 - Employment keeps growing, Corona crisis affects shipping industry

Employment keeps growing, Corona crisis affects shipping industry

2020 looked promising for Port Oostende. In the first two months, ship tonnage increased by 20% compared to the same period in 2019. The arrival of the virus brought about a snap in the growth curve. This resulted in a 6% decrease in traded ship volumes compared to 2019. Port Oostende ends up with 1,491,500 tonnes in 2020 compared to 1,589,212 tonnes in 2019.

Despite the decrease in handled tonnage, Port Oostende recorded 20% more shipping movements. This was mainly due to the increase in the number of work vessels for the Blue Economy (crew transfer vessels + service operation vessels) that called at our port. 

Employment and investments, the standards for added value

Thanks to the safety measures and adjustments on the work floor, most activities could continue as planned. For example, the Seamade project at the REBO heavy weight terminal was completed within the scheduled time. 

Now that all eight wind farms of the first concession zone in the Belgian part of the North Sea have been built, the focus is on the maintenance of the 399 turbines. The number of direct employment places in the Blue Economy increased by 10% (from 561 to 622 permanent FTEs). 

The newcomers that Port Oostende brought in in 2020 were limitedly hampered by the crisis. ECA Robotics Belgium, which builds underwater drones for the Belgian-Dutch Navy, obtained the environmental permit at the end of 2020. Construction of the production centre in Port Oostende will start in 2021. Columbi Salmon, which will breed Norwegian salmon in tanks on land, has a concession of 16 ha in Plassendale 1. They expect their environmental permit by the summer of this year. 

In the course of 2021 e-BO Enterprises will start using its new premises. Once fully operational 30 people will be working there. 

"The establishments of these new companies will be visible in the employment figures from 2022 onwards. In the meantime, we are doing everything possible to support the newcomers in order to facilitate a smooth start-up. "

Circular industry

West Recycle and Renasci, two companies active in the circular industry continue to expand their business and make a nice contribution to employment with currently 14 and 50 FTEs respectively. 

"The mix of activities in 2020 proves that Port Oostende is an interesting location for investors. We focus on companies that bring investment and employment. Only then can Port Oostende fulfil its role as an engine for the economy.


Port Oostende remains convinced that it can play a meaningful role in the traffic to the UK and Ireland. Now that the Brexit is finally a fact and the contours are clear, we can continue to look specifically for traffic to those countries. 

Port Oostende

Port Oostende focuses on continuity, growth and employment within five pillars: Blue EconomyBulk & Project CargoCruises & Roll-On Roll-OffCircular Industry and the Fisheries Sector. These sectors are further expanded on the basis of two foundations: prioritising safety, health and the environment and second supporting innovation and development.