CEDA releases new study on seafloor integrity
Preserving and protecting the ecosystem we are working in has been a key practice within the dredging industry. From conducting environmental impact assessments for projects, to implementing dedicated monitoring and exploring mitigation measures and to the beneficial reuse of sediment to help with habitat restoration, the industry has worked hard not only to deal with environmental impacts but also to explore ecological opportunities in our dredging works.
The CEDA working group on seafloor integrity (WGSI) has released an information paper on ‘dredging and seafloor integrity’ to shed light on the legislative requirements for seafloor integrity (D6) in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) in relation to dredging and disposal practices. Through the characterisation of seafloor integrity under MSFD guidelines the paper investigates how dredging, disposal, and placement of dredged material or marine construction activities may affect seafloor integrity.
Assessment of such impact is based on the risk of not achieving or maintaining a Good Environmental Status (GES) as defined in the MSFD, with member states setting their own criteria and threshold values for GES. Permanent habitat loss, increased suspended sediment concentrations, and the introduction of contaminated sediment are some of the environmental impacts explored. The authors argue that using proactive and adaptive management strategies throughout a project would help to mitigate these impacts and achieve GES.
As current EU legislation begins enforcing strict environmental requirements, the paper argues that dredging industry needs to research and develop more indicators and methods for identifying, assessing, maintaining and exploring seafloor integrity. This will not only help align dredging and disposal practices with EU requirements and safeguard the structure and function of the ecosystems in which they operate (to be compliant); but opens perspectives to explore nature inclusive opportunities.