Campaign to halt marine aggregate dredging in Danish seas

Oceana reports, 22nd June 2016: Sand dredging in the Sound [between Denmark and Sweden] causes serious damage to the ocean floor and marine life, in areas that are key for commercial species such as cod and plaice. These are among the main findings of reports presented yesterday at the Danish Nature Agency on the environmental effects of sand dredging in the region.

Oceana is deeply concerned that, despite these known impacts, dredging continues to happen in the Danish waters of the Sound, and with only minimal regulation.

“It is truly baffling why the Danish government has allowed this destructive activity to continue for so long without any concern as to the extent of the damage done to the area,” stated Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of Oceana in Europe.

Sand dredging is a practice that uses heavy machinery to suction sand from the ocean floor. Once the sand is removed, it is mainly used for construction purposes. In the Sound, dredging is not permitted in Swedish waters, but is still routinely carried out in shallow Danish sandbanks that are vital feeding and nursery areas for various fish species.

“The physical and destructive uprooting of marine life in the Sound caused by dredging is, in many cases, irreversible. Pumping out industrial-sized volumes of sand from the ocean floor has major impacts —
“Entire areas of these highly productive habitats are removed and the seabed is submerged further. Given the importance of these areas for commercially important fish such as cod and plaice, continuing to dredge also jeopardises the future of fisheries in the Sound,”
added Gustavsson.

In April 2016, Oceana carried out an at-sea research expedition in the Sound, to document marine biodiversitybiodiversity Biological diversity in an environment as indicated by numbers of different species of plants and animals. and the human activities that threaten it, including sand dredging. Despite some claims that dredged areas recover naturally over time, this is contrary to the evidence from sites such as in Sweden’s Lomma Bay, which was last dredged over half a century ago and still shows no signs of any such natural recovery.

Only limited research has been carried out by the Danish authorities to assess dredging impacts, and these studies have neglected to consider long-term effects, or the impacts on species that live directly in the sand, and so are likely to be most directly affected.

Just last month, Oceana backed a proposal tabled by Danish opposition parties to prohibit dredging in the Sound. Oceana will continue to urge Denmark to follow Sweden in putting an end to this activity.

Source: Oceana, 22nd June 2016. For further details, see

Marinet observes:
Oceana is to be congratulated for raising the profile of this issue, and so are the elected representatives in the Danish Parliament who have tabled a motion to prohibit dredging in the seas between Denmark and Sweden.

Marinet has to ask where the elected representatives in the Westminster Parliament stand on this matter? We have repeatedly, and recently, contacted not just the UK Government but also all the opposition parties at Westminster to ask them to engage with these issues, but they have all declined for one reason or another.

It really is time that our elected representatives paid attention to this issue and, if after looking at the facts, they still conclude that aggregate dredging is beneficial, then so be it. At present, they will not give any time to a consideration of the facts by means of a serious debate. That simply is not good enough. In the minds of many, it is a dereliction of their duty.

In parenthesis, with at least two actual/recommended Marine Conservation Zones currently being challenged by aggregate dredging applications, Marinet observes that it would also help if other marine NGOs gave some time and serious attention to this issue.

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