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Twenty-year review of the ‘Area Involved’

20-year review

BMAPA and The Crown Estate publish review of dredging licence initiative launched in 1999

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 20 years the two organizations have been working in partnership, sharing data to help promote and ensure sustainable use of the seabed.


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 minimizing the area of seabed licensed and dredged.

This voluntary commitment has resulted in 20 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 minimize the environmental footprint of the sector’s operations.

Key information from the report includes:

  • The industry reduced its licensed footprint by 401 sq km, with 1,414 sq km of licensed seabed surrendered and 1,013 sq km of additional seabed licensed.
  • The annual area of seabed dredged reduced by 60%, from 223 sq km in 1998 to 91 sq km in 2017.
  • The cumulative dredge footprint over the 20-year period was 551 sq km, of which 223 sq km 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, commented: ‘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 minimized.’

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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