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Mar Pollut Bull. 2013 Oct 15;75(1-2):33-45. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2013.08.009. Epub 2013 Sep 4.

Can the benefits of physical seabed restoration justify the costs? An assessment of a disused aggregate extraction site off the Thames Estuary, UK.

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  • 1The Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science, Pakefield Road Lowestoft, Suffolk NR33 0HT, UK. Electronic address:


Physical and biological seabed impacts can persist long after the cessation of marine aggregate dredging. Whilst small-scale experimental studies have shown that it may be possible to mitigate such impacts, it is unclear whether the costs of restoration are justified on an industrial scale. Here we explore this question using a case study off the Thames Estuary, UK. By understanding the nature and scale of persistent impacts, we identify possible techniques to restore the physical properties of the seabed, and the costs and the likelihood of success. An analysis of the ecosystem services and goods/benefits produced by the site is used to determine whether intervention is justified. Whilst a comparison of costs and benefits at this site suggests restoration would not be warranted, the analysis is site-specific. We emphasise the need to better define what is, and is not, an acceptable seabed condition post-dredging.

Crown Copyright © 2013. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Aggregate dredging; Ecosystem goods/benefits; Ecosystem services; Impacts; North Sea; Restoration

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