The Role of Seafloor Characterization and Benthic Habitat Mapping in Dredged Material Management: A Review
Raymond M. Valente
Explosive growth in international trade over the past 30 years has increased the need for dredging to maintain navigable waterways in ports and harbors worldwide. A significant amount of dredging also occurs in many coastal areas for the purpose of extracting commercially valuable mineral resources. Both dredging and the subsequent disposal of dredged material in aquatic environments are activities having direct and potentially deleterious effects on benthic habitats, and various forms of benthic habitat mapping have been utilized for detection, monitoring and managing such environmental impacts. This paper discusses the regulatory drivers and identifies key guidance documents for undertaking various types of benthic habitat mapping in relation to dredging and the aquatic disposal of dredged material. A literature review serves to illustrate how various seafloor characterization and benthic mapping techniques have been employed within existing management frameworks to address concerns about the environmental impacts of dredging and disposal.