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Recovery of the seabed following marine aggregate dredging on the Hastings Shingle Bank off the southeast coast of England
Cooper, K.; Boyd, S.; Eggleton, J.; Limpenny, D.; Rees, H.; Vanstaen, K. (2007). Recovery of the seabed following marine aggregate dredging on the Hastings Shingle Bank off the southeast coast of England. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 75(4): 547-558.
In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0272-7714; e-ISSN 1096-0015, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Hastings Shingle Bankrecoverybenthosaggregatedredgingseabedenvironmental impact

Authors  Top 
  • Cooper, K.
  • Boyd, S.
  • Eggleton, J.
  • Limpenny, D.
  • Rees, H.
  • Vanstaen, K., more

    The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of dredging intensity on the physical and biological recovery times of the seabed following marine aggregate dredging. Two areas of seabed, previously subject to, respectively, relatively high and lower levels of dredging intensity, were identified on the Hastings Shingle Bank. Two reference areas were also selected for comparative purposes. All four sites were monitored annually over the period 2001–2004, using a combination of acoustic, video and grab sampling techniques. Since the site was last dredged in 1996, this was intended to provide a sequence of data 5–8 years after cessation of dredging. However, an unexpected resumption of dredging within the high intensity site, during 2002 and 2003, allowed an additional assessment of the immediate effects and aftermath of renewed dredging at the seabed. The early stages of recovery could then be assessed after dredging ceased in 2003. Results from both dredged sites provide a useful insight into the early and latter stages of physical and biological recovery. A comparison of recent and historic dredge track features provided evidence of track erosion. However, tracks were still visible 8 years after the cessation of dredging. Within the high dredging intensity site, recolonisation was relatively rapid after the cessation of dredging in 2003. Rather than indicating a full recovery, we suggest that this initial ‘colonization community’ may enter a transition phase before eventually reaching equilibrium. This hypothesis is supported by results from the low intensity site, where biological recovery was judged to have taken 7 years. Further monitoring is needed in order to test this. An alternative explanation is that the rapid recovery may be explained by the settlement of large numbers of Sabellaria spinulosa. As the resumption of dredging within the high intensity site limited our assessment of longer-term recovery it is not yet possible to assume that a 7-year biological recovery period will be applicable to other, more intensively dredged areas at this or more distant locations.

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