British Marine Aggregate Producers Association (BMAPA) part of the Mineral Products Association (MPA)


british marine aggregate
producers association


Area dredged

One of the most significant developments over the last two decades for the management of marine aggregate extraction operations has been The Crown Estate requirement that all vessels dredging on production licences be fitted with an electronic monitoring system (EMS). The EMS automatically records the date, time and position of all dredging activity, and this data is automatically sent to both The Crown Estate and the industry regulator on a monthly basis. The data is carefully analysed to ensure that all operations are taking place in accordance with the Marine Licences they are operating under. Analysis undertaken by The Crown Estate showed that a total of 18,344 hours of dredging activity were recorded by EMS systems during 2011, equivalent to approximately 55,000km of dredge track.

BMAPA and The Crown Estate are committed to transparency in reporting the area licensed for dredging at any time. In March 1999 both parties issued a joint statement of intent which committed to reviewing all production licence areas over a rolling five year period, surrendering areas no longer containing useful resources of sand and gravel. This included a commitment to publish an annual report detailing the extent of dredging within regional licensed areas using analysis of EMS data.

Every year since 1998, BMAPA and The Crown Estate have jointly produced an annual report known as the Area Involved, which detailed changes in the area of seabed licensed and dredged at both national and regional scales. In 2005, we published a five-year review report which summarised the period 1998-2002 and this has been followed by two further reviews in 2009 and 2014, the most recent of which summarised the period 1998-2012.

Marine aggregate summary statistics 1998-2016

  Area of seabed
licensed for
dredging (km2)
Area available
to be worked
Area dredged

(m tonnes)

1998 1,458   222.6 20.47
1999 1,455   220.3 23.68
2000 1,464   155.4 20.68
2001 1,408 972 150.6 22.76
2002 1,359 896 149.8 21.93
2003 1,264 890 143.8 22.23
2004 1,257 780 134.5 21.45
2005 1,179 596 137.6 21.09
2006 1,316 576 140.6 24.18
2007 1,344 556 135 23.09
2008 1278 570 138 21.24
2009 1,286 536 124 20.10
2010 1,291 552 105 15.95
2011 1,274 567 114 19.12
2012 711 391 97 16.79
2013 723 332 99 16
2014 726 332 85.66 16.94
2015 932 337 82.67 18.82
2016 934 452 87.53 17.94

Area involved fifteen-year review (1998-2012)

In September 2014, BMAPA and The Crown Estate published a fifteen-year review of the area involved initiative.

The review reports on trends across three key areas:

Area licensed

  • Between 1998 and 2012 the area of seabed licensed decreased by 748km2.
  • 1,237km2 of licensed area was surrendered.
  • 489km2 of new area was licensed.
  • The area licensed within 12 nautical miles of the coast decreased, while the area of seabed licensed beyond 12 nautical miles increased slightly.

Area dredged

  • Between 1998 and 2012 the area of seabed dredged annually decreased by 126km2.
  • The area of seabed dredged per year ranged from 222km2 in 1998 to 97km2 in 2012.

Cumulative footprint

  • The cumulative area of seabed dredged between 1998 and 2012 totalled 512km2.
  • The area of new seabed dredged each year significantly decreased to only 6.1km2 in 2012. In 2004 this figure was 16.3km2 and in 2008 it was 14.5km2.
  • A total of 314 million tonnes of marine sand and gravel was dredged from Crown Estate licence areas between 1998 and 2012. Averaged across the cumulative footprint, this represents 37cm of sediment being removed across the entire area dredged – equivalent to a single pass of a drag head.
  • In reality, the extraction activity will not be spread evenly across the dredged area, and some areas will be dredged more intensively while others may not be dredged at all. Consequently, the actual thickness of sediment removed per unit area will vary according to the intensity of dredging operations and the depth limits of the sand and gravel deposits being targeted. Nevertheless the relationship between dredged area and extraction tonnage provides an indicator of the relative scale of dredging intensity.

Area involved 20th annual report (2017)

Summary information from the 20th annual report, published in August 2018, is as follows. This relates to the 2017 calendar year (2016 equivalents in brackets).

Summary information

  • A total of 19.00 million tonnes of sand and gravel were dredged from Crown Estate licences in England and Wales during 2017 (17.94 million tonnes in 2016)
  • The total area of seabed licensed in 2017 was 1057km2 (934km2 in 2016)
  • Dredging took place within 90.94 km2, 8.60 per cent of the licensed area, compared with 87.53km2 (9.37 per cent) in 2016
  • The area of seabed dredged for more than 1 hour 15 minutes per year (high intensity – red on charts) was 7.42km2 (7.52km2 in 2016)
  • 90 per cent of dredging from Crown Estate licences took place from an area of 38.30km2 (33.92km2 in 2016).
  • 90 per cent of dredging from Crown Estate licences took place from an area of 33.92km2 (31.58km2 in 2015).

You can download the annual reports and review documents here.


You are in: Issues > Area dredged

In this section

Print PagePrintable page
Top of page I Disclaimer I Download guide I Sitemap
Enter the dedicated MPA members websiteBMAPA, Gillingham House, 38-44 Gillingham Street, London SW1V 1HU
Tel: 020 7963 8000 Fax: 020 7963 8001 Email: