Other sea users
In some places, dredging companies operate in close proximity to other sea users such as ports, fishermen and offshore energy interests. This can result in the potential for spatial conflict between activities.
It is Government policy to minimise both the area of seabed licensed and the area of seabed dredged. By proactively working to deliver this requirement, BMAPA members have significantly reduced both the area of seabed licensed and the area of seabed dredged. Furthermore, through the introduction of active dredge area zones, the industry further limits the area within licensed areas where dredging may actually take place. This in turn is monitored using the Electronic Monitoring Systems all dredgers are required to have.
The needs of all other marine users, including fisheries and fishermen, are considered from the earliest stages of a licence application through the environmental impact assessment process. If unacceptable impacts are predicted or the proposed licence lies in a sensitive area such as a spawning ground, a Marine Licence will not be issued.
A series of regional fisheries liaison groups enables constructive dialogue and open discussion of issues, and BMAPA together with the Marine Management Organisation and The Crown Estate issued an updated version of a long-standing liaison Code of Practice in July 2012. This facilitates communications between marine aggregate operators and fishing interests in advance of dredging operations commencing on an area, and while extraction operations are underway. The Code of Practice was subsequently updated in 2015 to include liaison requirements when marine surveys associated with the assessment or management of aggregate operations are being undertaken.
From July 2012, the industry’s existing Code of Practice will be supported by a new electronic notification service delivered by Kingfisher. This service, which is co-funded by BMAPA and The Crown Estate, will allow operators to publicise operational changes or forthcoming survey works via a Kingfisher Fortnightly Bulletin that will be available download and also be circulated electronically to regional fisheries interests.
Fisheries Liaison Updates
As a result of discussions at previous South and East Coast Liaison Committee meetings, a decision was taken to trial some alternative arrangements.
These would see the traditional six monthly meetings replaced by a single liaison committee meeting taking place each year, supplemented by an Issues Update which would be circulated electronically six months in between. The production of the Issues Update and its circulation would be coordinated by the British Marine Aggregate Producers Association.
The thinking behind this change was that the lines of communication and contacts were now sufficiently well developed to allow any site specific liaison issues to be addressed on a bi-lateral basis between the parties concerned. As a consequence, both liaison committees had evolved towards a platform to report updated general information against standing agenda items. Rather than continuing to hold a meeting every six months for this purpose, it was agreed that these updates could potentially be achieved equally well via a written report.
The usefulness and effectiveness of this approach will continue to be reviewed at formal meetings of the liaison committees. Details of the venue and timing of liaison committees will be circulated 4 weeks prior to the meeting date.
The marine aggregate industry are committed to maintaining the levels of liaison and engagement with the commercial fishing sector. Therefore if any issues arise outside of the established liaison committee meeting cycle that are unable to be resolved through bi-lateral discussions, there is the option to arrange issue-specific meetings to address these.
Equally, if there are any comments on the information provided in the Issues Review, or suggestions for other information that could usefully be included, these should be sent to [email protected] so they can be considered at the next liaison meeting.
ECDFL Update Q1 2016 and ECL Licensed Area Summary Q1 2016
SCFL Update Q3 2016 and SCFL Licensed Area Summary Q3 2016-08-18
In many cases, the area available to be dredged at any one time is restricted through zoning. This may be as a result of a licence condition or as a voluntary initiative introduced by the operator. The value of such zoning lies in minimising the spatial footprint of marine aggregate dredging activity, which in turn can reduce the potential footprint of environmental impact, and reduces the potential for spatial impacts with other users of the sea. Zoning also allows operators to manage their resources more effectively.
Since 2003, BMAPA and The Crown Estate have undertaken to produce Current Working Area charts for all dredging regions on a bi-annual basis. These charts provide a snapshot of the extent of active dredge areas every six months, with any changes to working areas highlighted in red.
Where there is a need to highlight regional changes to existing marine aggregate production licence areas, the industry will occasionally also issue updated Current Working Area charts outside of the bi-annual cycle. This ensures that the most up-to-date information on working areas is available to other marine users.
The charts are distributed to the fishing industry through a network of local contacts and also through the Kingfisher Fortnightly Bulletin service.