Dredging includes all activities required for the removal and dumping of sand, sludge and other layers on the seabed. This technique is mainly used for maritime access and coastal defence, but also for land reclamation and nature development.

In general, more than 99% of the sediment that is dumped at sea comes from dredging works at ports and fairways. In the North Sea, approximately 90% of all dredged sediment is deposited in the southern part of the area, which is mainly due to the maintenance of the shipping channels to the many seaports in the region. Belgium and Germany were leaders in the period 2008-2014 in the dumping of sediment at sea with 267 and 229 million tonnes (dry weight) respectively (OSPAR IA 2017, OSPAR 2017). In Belgium, 13 million tonnes (dry weight) of sediment were deposited in 2015 (Lauwaert et al., 2016). This volume of dredged and dumped sediment is likely to increase in the future due to the increasing size of the ships, which requires a further widening and deepening of the navigation and port channels.

Due to the ever-increasing volume, there must be strong regulations on where and how much material may be dumped. The marine spatial plan (MSP, RD of 20 March 2014, see also Van de Velde et al. 2014) defines 5 zones for the dumping of dredged material: Bruggen en Wegen Zeebrugge Oost, Ostend, Nieuwpoort, S1 and S2 (Lauwaert et al., 2016). In ministerial decrees it was stipulated that in the period 2017-2021 the Maritime Access Division may deposit a maximum of 26.5 million tonnes of dry matter in 4 landfills in the Belgian part of the North Sea (on an annual basis). In addition, the Agency for Maritime and Coastal Services also has 4 permits, enabling it to dump a total maximum of 700,000 tonnes of dry matter per year within the same period. 

More info on www.compendiumkustenzee.be.

Marine Spatial Planning
Dredging and dumping sites and intensity