29 January 2019

BMAPA & The Crown Estate Publishes ‘Area Involved’ 20-year Review

The British Marine Aggregate Producers Association (BMAPA) and The Crown Estate have published a 20-year review of their ‘Area Involved’ initiative which reports on changes in the area of seabed licensed and dredged. Over the past twenty years the two organisations have been working in partnership, sharing data to help promote and ensure sustainable use of the sea bed.

The original 1999 ‘Area Involved’ initiative committed the marine aggregate industry and The Crown Estate to review all dredging licences over a rolling five-year period, with a view to minimising the area of seabed licensed and dredged. This voluntary commitment has resulted in twenty annual reports being published, and the new 20-year review highlights an overall reduction in both the area of seabed licensed and the area of seabed dredged over the period 1998-2017 which has helped to minimise the environmental footprint of the sector’s operations.

 Key information from the report includes:

  • The industry reduced its licensed footprint by 401km2 with:
    • 1,414km² of licensed seabed surrendered, and;
    • 1,013km² of additional seabed licensed.
  • The annual area of seabed dredged reduced by 60%, from 223km² in 1998 to 91km² in 2017.
  • The cumulative dredge footprint over the 20-year period was 551km², of which 223km² occurred within licensed area that has now been surrendered.
  • The analysis of dredging activity, leading to more efficient use of the seabed, has been made possible by a ‘black box’ Electronic Monitoring System, developed by The Crown Estate and industry, and required on all vessels operating in GB licensed areas.

Mark Russell, BMAPA Director, said:

“The ‘Area Involved’ initiative has fundamentally changed the way that marine aggregate operations are reported, significantly increasing the transparency and accountability of industry. In doing so it has delivered significant reductions in both the area of seabed licensed and the area dredged, reflecting the importance both parties have placed on improving the way that marine aggregate activities are managed to ensure potential impacts on the environment and on other marine users are minimised.”

Nick Everington, Marine Minerals Portfolio Manager for The Crown Estate, said:

“This report demonstrates that The Crown Estate and industry are committed to continual improvement over our management of the seabed and understanding of the marine environment. We have, over a 20-year period supported industry in delivering a significant long-term reduction in the area affected by marine aggregate dredging. We look forward to continuing this important partnering initiative to help support the effective and sustainable management of our seabed.

After 20 years, BMAPA and The Crown Estate intend to use 2019 to work in partnership with the industry to reflect and reshape the scope of the review to ensure it remains fit for purpose as a key performance indicator of both parties commitment to the sustainable management of our seas.”

The commitment made by the marine aggregate industry and The Crown Estate pre-dates many of the marine policy provisions that are now established, notably the UK Marine Policy Statement, marine planning and the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

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