Friday, 9 May 2008

Integrated Coastal Zone Management – ICZM
15th October 2007

The Government depicts ICZM as;

‘a process that brings together all those involved in the development,
management and the use of the coast within a framework that facilitates the
integration of their interests and responsibilities’

Traditional coastal management policies and decisions in the UK have been made with reference to sectoral interests such as transport, environment, economic growth or waste management; however this method alone cannot deliver sustainable development of the world’s coasts. As the coast is used for conflicting purposes it feels the pressures created by these. Therefore sectors which operate in the marine and terrestrial environments thus having an impact on the coastal zone need a revised integrated approach involving parties holistically resulting in joined up management. At present the framework does not represent true ICZM principles as set by the European Commission, but rather local non-regulatory actions are closer to those principles.
In 1990 particular environmental and social issues were highlighted as needing attention, these consist of; habitat destruction, loss of fish stocks ,biodiversity, pollution, economic decline and social deprivation.

In 2002 ICZM was introduced to fifteen member states and the recommendation was to undertake a national stocktake to analyse which actors, laws and institutions influence the planning and management of their coastal zones. From this a national strategy to implement ICZM should be developed. In 2003, the UK government commissioned Atkins to carry out a stocktake of the current framework for management of the coastal zone.

The UK coastline is more than 19,000km long and comprises of coastal land, estuaries and inland waters which supports a large proportion of the population and a variety of economic activity. The coast is highly productive and biologically diverse ecosystem with features that provide critical natural defences against storms, flooding and erosion.

Key competing activities as those listed below are some difficulties which planner and managers implementing ICZM have to asses and find solutions for.

1. Protecting vulnerable communities against the effects of erosion and flooding
2. Meeting the demands and needs of tourism and recreation
3. Facilitating economic development.
4. Protecting areas of special interest, i.e. geological, ecological or scenic.
The UK’s approach and present commitment to ICZM.
To improve and simplify the framework a practical approach has been taken by introducing management realignment projects to deliver a holistic approach on the ground. This has promoted a wider sense of ownership and a deeper appreciation of coastal issues within stakeholders at all levels. An environmental agenda has been paramount focusing on conservation of coastal biodiversity and safeguarding areas of scenic beauty. Drivers such as economic growth and the necessity to include stakeholders in decisions which directly affect them have been a successful tool for initiating change. Local working groups have been set up, generally administered through local authorities, to address particular areas of concern. This has been conducted by facilitating cooperation and resolving conflicts, raising awareness and understanding of issues and collecting and distributing information.

However the framework is still not up to the guidelines for ICZM set by European Commission, with long term planning being the weakest link. Presently ICZM initiatives have been short term projects rather than an integral part of an established decision making and delivery process.

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea - UNCLOS
7th November 2007

“The ocean is the very foundation of human life” (United Nations 2004)

The Law of the Sea Convention defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world's oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.

Figure1. UNCLOS lll, defined the various limits using the baseline -measured generally from low water (Wikipedia 2004)

The Crown Estate – Stewardship or Exploitation? Case Study: Lyme Bay
14th November 2007

The Crown estate (CE) own 55% of the foreshore spanning 50,000 square feet, the fundus and the seabed out to the 12 mile limit, with the CE owning all territorial waters. The Crown Estate, combining marine and terrestrial assets, total a value of £7 billion. Marine exploitation is a key source of revenue for the Crown Estate with a total yearly value of £38 million. A large percentage is sold, averaging 24 million ton per annum and over 2000 licences are issued for a variety of uses from wind farms to wave hubs, mining to dredging.

Fishing is a profit a prendre, a right to take something from someone else’s land. However in this context the right to fish is not the issue. The question posed is whether there is an additional right to fish in a manner that causes damage to the seabed. There is a current dispute between conservationalist and fishermen on the management of Lyme Bay due to the protection of the Pink Sea Fan (Eunicella verrucosa)a species protected under the biodiversity action plan, and whether the Crown Estate should take action to protect its property.

Figure 2. Pink Sea Fan (Eunicella verrucosa) on the sea floor at lyme bay.

Laissez faire for scallop dredging should no longer be an acceptable approach, due to the colossal damage the act causes; as the dredge digs its teeth into the seabed and scrapes along the sea floor everything on route is collected within the dredge and hauled to the surface. However success rate is minimal and with one in three legal-sized scallops caught per dredge. This practice reduces not only biodiversity but the sustainability of the industry itself. This then poses the question of whether the Crown Estate is a good steward for the seabed and if not only on a moral level should this landowner become proactive in addressing this issue.

The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 (NERC Act), provide a legislative framework to add substance to this case and state,

‘Every public authority must, in exercising its functions, have regard, so far as
is consistent with the proper exercise of those functions, to the purpose of
conserving biodiversity.’

The public right to fish stems from ancient common law and it is an area over due for renew which needs to put on a statutory basis with clear limitations on its nature. However at present the activity of scallop dredging is permissible under the public right to fish, though under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is a criminal offence to damage certain vulnerable species, naming the pink sea fan as one.

In conclusion the Crown Estate has a duty to actively manage its marine estate and protect biodiversity, and the NERC Act provides the authority to adhere to. There needs to wider communication with statutory bodies such as DEFRA and the Sea Fisheries Committees to implement tougher measures from bye-laws to increased licences. However the Crown Estate earns a healthy payment from the licences provided to dredge and therefore their best interest and care of duty are arguably split.

Dredging - November 21st and 28th 2007
Marine Aggregates

The marine aggregates industry supplies raw materials in the form of sand and gravel to the construction industry. The UK exports 30% of its dredged marine aggregates, as countries including Holland and Belgium do not permit the dredging of sand and gravel within the 25 mile limit to protect their coastlines and fisheries, in contrast, the UK permits dredging in this area. This operates on the grounds economics should not be interfered with and as dredging operates within a free market there is no stop put to it.

Licences for dredging are provided by the Crown Estate in conjunction with a successfully completed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and run for a period of ten years. However there is little or no monitoring of the effect dredging has on benthic communities and fisheries or shorelines and coastal defences. Thus the essential record which forms the foundation of a future EIA is obsolete and the cumulative impact of dredging makes it difficult to suspend a licence mid-term due to lack of knowledge.

Dredging alters the physical character of the seabed in particular for gravel areas which are immobile and incapable of physical restoration. Gravels areas of the seabed are pristine environments and rich in biodiversity as they have evolved over 12,000 years (since the last ice age) without the interference from mankind. Both sand and gravel areas serve fish for habitats and food supply and as spawning and nursery grounds. The discarded waste after dredging smothers the seabed, which damages the eggs and juveniles of fish. This conducted over repeated periods will have an effect on commercial fish stocks.

With the situation of sea level rise, due to climate change, coastal defence has never been so important. However, the displacement of sand and gravel out to sea creates a void producing severely eroded beaches. From which coastal defences such as sand cliffs, sand dunes, salt marshes and shingle beaches receive a beating producing coastal erosion.

With increased population; there is a larger demand on infrastructure, housing and commerce, thus the demand for marine aggregates is growing. To meet this demand increasing the amount of recycled construction and demolition waste is one option as a substitute for marine aggregates. MARINET, the marine network which campaigns to protect the marine environment around the UK coastline, has called for a fundamental reassessment of marine aggregate dredging. It specifies three main objectives; to strengthen the quality of EIA’s, se e a drastic improvement of the development for recycled aggregates and a deliberate reduction of marine aggregate dredging licences.

It is our duty as citizens and stewards of the earth to demonstrate a sense of responsibility towards safeguarding the sea for present and future generations. As marine aggregates are a finite resource its future is unsure. It is also necessary for the protection of sea defences and coastal communities as the earth is living in fragile times.

Live Bivalves Molluscs (LBM) – a lecture offered by Mr Gary Cooper from Falmouth Port Health. 24th October 2008

Bivalves consist of clams, mussels, oysters and similar molluscs. In bivalves the body is laterally compressed and enclosed in a two-valved shell. The gills are used to obtain oxygen and filter and sort food particles from the water. Strong muscles are used to close the shells.

The role of the Port Health Authority
CEFAS (Centre for the Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science) process all shellfish assessment for the entire UK. In Falmouth the Port Health Authority is based in Falmouth Docks and regulates the water quality in the Carrick Roads, it is statutorily bound by the Food Standards Agency. Monthly testing is carried out to test for bacteria in the water. E. coli is the main bacteria checked to make sure no pathogens have entered the molluscs. The testing is carried out by a attaching a netted bag containing the mussels or oysters to a buoy in the different areas of the Carrick Roads. A member of Port Health visits each site per month, taking a water sample. This follows the CEFAS protocol and is sent to the Health Protection Agency at Truro for testing. Depending on the amount of E. coli and faecal coliforms (rod shaped bacteria that are normally found in the colons of humans and animals) present, a grade is set for that specific area of water. There are four grades A-D, grade A is set when there are less than 230 E. coli per 100g of flesh and less than 300 faecal coliforms present. At this grade it is suitable for direct human consumption. At grade B, there must be less than 4600 E. coli /100g of flesh and under 6000 coliforms of faeces. At this grade the oysters once harvested must be depurated or re laid in grade A water. Grade C means there must be less than 60,000 coliforms and once dredged must be re laid in grade A or B for a two month period. Any water which is grade D is prohibited and no dredging or fishing for commercial uses can take place.

New legislation was set in 2005 by the Food Standard Agency, detailing if an area becomes classified as a particular grade then it will stay like this for five years before being reassessed. However if an areas moves into a grade C category regular testing can commence as the water quality may of blipped and will return to a functional grade B again.

Why is there a water classification system?
LMB are filter feeders which mean they filter out the suspended organic material present in the water column. This can be sewage, toxic run-off from farming or dinoflagellates. Hence a danger for human consumption and therefore life. E.coli can be used as an indicator, however is not a guarantee for an absence of pathogens. With the possibility of toxins a number of diseases can be caught from shellfish, these are: diuretic, paralytic and amnesic.

CEFAS facts and figures
· 50 enforcement offices
· 16 testing labs
· 75 production areas
· 371 beds
· 61, 000 results from1992

Within the Fal there are only native oysters (Ostera edulis) which are laid on natural beds. In the Helford there are native and pacific oyster but they are laid on farmed beds. The pacific oyster is much more durable than the native species and survives from 2° c to 20°c. There are not as many problems with the pacific oyster as they are more resistant to disease.

Shifting Shores – National Trust 2005
5th December 2007

The National Trust states ‘In the United Kingdom no one lives more than 75 miles from the sea. For us, as an island nation, the sea has an all-embracing presence. Spiritually and physically we are intimately connected with our shores. The sea has immense power, which we ignore at our peril’.

In view of the issues presented by coastal change, the National Trust who now owns nearly one tenth of the coast of England, Wales and Northern Island has an vested interested to provide the scope for change and confront these issues. The coast is a volatile environment, with sea level rise and climate change fuelling the scale and pace of coastal change.

A research project was commissioned by the National Trust to assess how the coastline is likely to change over the next 100 years. The results indicate that many of the National Trusts important sites are at risk from coastal erosion and flooding with 10% of this loss stretching 100-200 meters inland.

In the past hard defences has been the option of choice in response to coastal change, however they only pose a temporary solution and as sea level rise increases this would become increasingly expensive, therefore hard defences are used as a last resort. Adapting to change and planning for the future, gives the best possible chance of conserving the natural coastline and consequently The National Trust favour working with the grain of nature as it has multiply benefits for people and wildlife, providing long-term solutions. This will create space at the coast for natural features, such as salt marshes and sand dunes, these not only provide essential habitats for wildlife they can also act as natural coastal defences.

Figure 3. Hard sea defences, have negative effects on the environment and biodiversity.

Equally it is not just the national trust that faces the challenges which surround coastal change but also at stake are the communities that house livelihoods and people’s homes, consequently there needs to be wider solutions to aid the diversity of situations.

Shoreline and Estuary management- Mullion Harbour
9th April 2008

The National Trust acquired Mullion harbour in 1945 and today, the harbour still supports a small fishing community, with a few boats landing mainly crabs, lobster and crawfish. Most people visit the in summer for recreation and quiet enjoyment and it is winter when the full ferocity of the Atlantic attacks leaving the National Trust with a serious issue.

Due to the effects of global warming and post-glacial rebound, sea level rise is predicted to be 5mm per year for the south west region. With an increase in water comes an increase in wave height, which has been predicted to rise by 60%. By 2100 it is presently projected the sea level will rise by 0.5m and this will mean a 0.3m rise in wave height. Thus the result of structural deterioration, sea level rise and increased wave energy will mean The National Trust will incur increased maintenance costs over the next 100 years. At present the Trust has spent over £1 million in repairs.

Recognising this threat, the Trust commissioned the Mullion Harbour Study in 2004 to identify future options for the long-term management of the harbour. The research project - conducted by the Halcrow group and BSW Ltd - is part funded with Objective One investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The study was to assess the structure of the harbour walls and address the impact the harbour has on the surrounding community, with a view to assist other harbour owners facing the same problems. A stake holder group was set up to advise the Trust of relevant aspects, it included representatives from the council, statutory bodies, local and regional stakeholders.

Management options and decisions
1. Installation of an offshore breakwater – this was declined as impractical, expensive and environmentally damaging, so the strategy was to combine the other two options

2. Maintain and repair – this option is practical enough to allow the tourist and locals to enjoy the harbour in its present state, but the stakeholder group realise that at an unpredictable date the bay will change back to its original state of an undeveloped cove. This will follow the Trust’s approach, as outlined in ‘Shifting Shores’, allowing the coastline to follow a natural path. A series of work costing £150,000 will commence to repair winter damage; this will be backed by yearly £5000 instalments to aid the yearly damage.

3. Managed retreat – Eventually it will be no longer recommended to repair and maintain the harbour as costs will be too high and the energy given will be fruitful. The time when this happens is up to the forces of nature. At which point a managed retreat will happen, deconstructing the breakwaters where necessary and consolidating the inner walls.