ICES Annual Science Conference 2021

Theme session P

Marine sediment extraction:
footprint, sustainability, and effects

Wednesday 8 September
16:00-17:00 CEST

​​​​​​​How can marine sediment extraction become a more sustainable activity with minimal - and preferably temporal - effects on the ecosystem and fisheries? And how can the actualization of ICES Guidelines for the Management of Marine Sediment Extraction (2003) improve both advice to policy and legislation authorities and the code of practice for the industry?

​Marine sediment extraction in the North Atlantic, including the Baltic and North seas, has shown a spectacular increase from a few hundred thousand m³ per year in the early 1970s to millions of m³ in the 1990s and tens of millions m³ in recent years. 

In a strict sense, marine mineral extraction is not sustainable because the extracted minerals are lost from the marine system. Marine sediment extraction can even cause negative effects on the marine environment through accompanying processes such as the removal of sediments including benthic fauna, introducing a sand blanket in the vicinity of the extraction, introducing high concentrations of suspended matter in the surrounding area, and increasing the level of underwater sound.

However, the way that minerals are extracted can be sustainable in the sense that the negative effects on the ecosystem are minimized by mitigation measures that are beneficial for the recolonization of the benthic fauna and recovery is fulfilled within an acceptable period of time after extraction.

To ensure these mitigation goals are achieved, extensive monitoring programmes are executed on, for example, suspended matter, recolonization, underwater noise and also on effects on other use of the sea and coastal defense.

In recent years, an important achievement has been measuring the intensity of extraction for use in defining the pressure of the activity on the marine environment by a scientific approach of footprint calculation.

In this session, the following issues will be addressed:

  • resource mapping
  • effects on benthic fauna
  • fish and fisheries
  • mitigation measures
  • incorporate data on amounts
  • intensity and areas of extraction in a database 
    (as required by OSPAR)

The session has a strong connection with marine spatial planning and (inter)national policy and legislation.

The conveners invite scientists and advisors involved in environmental impact assessment and monitoring, OSPAR, HELCOM, the EU-MSFD community, governmental decision-makers, NGOs and industry to take part.

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Ad Stolk (The Netherlands)
Keith Cooper (UK)
Michel Desprez (France)
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Theme session P

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