CEDA Forum 2013 – Experiment Worth Following Up

CEDA Forum 2013

The Central Dredging Association (CEDA) rang the changes with its Forum this year, which took place at Ahoy Rotterdam, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on 7 November 2013.

Following WODCON XX held between 3 and 7 June 2013 in Brussels, Belgium, and including some 100 technical presentations CEDA saw its presence at Europort 2013 as the perfect opportunity to organise an event with more interaction and networking, which would allow the delegates to engage fully with each other and with the content. All the elements, from the announcement fliers to the meeting room setup and, most importantly, the programme design, were geared towards bringing this experience to delegates while maximising knowledge-sharing.

The Forum’s main components were two workshops, each on an important specialist subject.

The morning workshop, Working under exotic circumstances, considered the safety issues and challenges facing those who have to work in remote, hostile areas. Content was focused on working in the Arctic. Chaired by Johan Pennekamp, of Deltares, who is also chairman of the Netherlands Section of CEDA, the workshop started with engaging, eye-opening presentations by three speakers, each an international expert on their subject:

• ‘Vigorously embracing safety with NINA’, Wilfred Haaijer, SHE-Q manager, Boskalis, the Netherlands, covering supported safety awareness throughout the company

• ‘Icy waters – opportunities and obstacles in the Arctic’, Sebastian Villyn, maritime risk analyst, Control Risks, United Kingdom, covering safety risks

• ‘Extreme remote health care’, Ryan Copeland, regional medical director, International SOS Northern Europe, United Kingdom, covering health risks.

After the speakers set the scene, delegates were put to work in small, mixed groups on fictitious but highly realistic cases around a dredging operation in the icy waters of the unforgiving Arctic. As the dredger made its way to its destination – a port under construction – various incidents occurred on board. Participants had to find solutions to the safety and risk issues that arose, taking the roles of captain of the dredger or operations director at the dredging company’s European head office.


The safety and risk issues ranged from an accident that resulted in a crew member suffering a dislocated shoulder to a severely injured activist falling into the icy water while trying to board the vessel from a zodiac. Sound effects helped to make the experience more realistic. As was demonstrated by the solutions the participants proposed – some of them with angles that surprised even the experts – this setup has great potential for learning.

Wrapping up the session, it was concluded that a safety culture has to be funded by everybody mutually on three pillars: open communication, equal perception and thrust, and that safety conduct and safety awareness go hand in hand, as do risk avoidance and risk awareness.

The topic of the afternoon workshop was Large marine infrastructure projects and the EU Habitats Directive: lessons learned. This workshop was chaired by Polite Laboyrie of Witteveen+Bos Consulting Engineers and also chairman of the CEDA Environment Commission. The five speakers all have in-depth knowledge of and extensive experience with the Habitats Directive. The speakers were carefully selected to represent the entire spectrum of players, which ensured that all relevant perspectives were represented. The line-up included the regulator, the project owner, the dredging contractor and the consultant with a background in engineering, biology and ecology.

The subjects and the speakers were as follows:

• ‘The EU Habitats Directive and uncertainties – case study of the Scheldt estuary deepening’, Stefaan Ides, research engineer, Port of Antwerp, Belgium

• ‘Habitats Directive and infrastructure developments’, Francois Kremer, policy coordinator Habitats Directive, European Commission DG Environment, Belgium

• ‘Maintenance dredging in the Ems and Natura 2000’, Erik Mink, senior advisor, EuDA, Belgium

• ‘Balancing the provision of infrastructure enhancements against their environmental cost’, Lindsay Jane Seiderer, managing director, Marine Ecological Surveys Limited, United Kingdom

• ‘Enhancing fish habitats in ports’, Guus Kruitwagen, ecologist, Witteveen+Bos Consulting Engineers, the Netherlands.

The presentations were followed by a lively discussion, which was joined by Bart Geenen, fresh water expert at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Netherlands.

This open exchange between members of the speaker panel and the audience ranged over a wide variety of issues, such as the need for and use of environmental regulation to balance the interests of economy and nature, and the strength and weaknesses of the Birds and Habitats Directive and whether it is time for its revision. Are unforeseen costs and delays inherent to projects that are likely to have negative impacts on a Natura 2000 site or are there ways of avoiding them? Can the ‘working with nature’ philosophy help? Can we learn from the Habitats Directive to avoid the same mistakes with the Water Framework Directive? Do the member states make best use of the flexibility offered by the Habitats Directive? And of course there was much more.

At the end, participants were asked to write down the most important lesson they had learned during the workshop. Among the lessons cited were:

• Evaluating environmental effects requires the ad hoc ascertainment of national uncertainties

• Focus more on ecosystem services and ecological objectives rather than setting tight, inflexible objectives of ideals.

A detailed report about this workshop will be published in due course by the CEDA Environment Commission.

“This is an experiment and we made you pay for it,” joked Johan Pennekamp at the beginning of the morning workshop. “We embarked on this experiment in response to CEDA members wanting more interaction at our events”, explained Anders Jensen, CEDA president. “We can say with confidence that the experiment has worked well. We have learned a lot and we will certainly see more opportunities for structured engagement in our future events”, he added.


The programme of workshops was complemented by table-top displays from the following companies: Control Risks, Fugro/Marinestar, IHC Merwede, International SOS Northern Europe, NMDC, Van Oord, VOSTALMG and Wärtsilä.

The day ended with the always popular CEDA Netherlands Reception, which this year was sponsored by Boskalis, Dutch Dredging, IHC Merwede and Van Oord.

On day two of the Forum, 8 November, those who joined the technical visit to the Sand Engine had an enjoyable and highly informative day. Jaap van Tiel de Vries of Boskalis (ex-Deltares), introduced the project, which is an innovative approach to coastal protection in the province of North Holland, the Netherlands. Then two PhD students Matthieu de Schipper, of Delft University of Technology and Shore Monitoring & Research, and Simeon Moons, of NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research gave delegates an insight into the morphological and ecological developments of the Sand Engine in the 18 months following its completion.

Then the group had the unique opportunity to view the Sand Engine from the top of the Atlanta Hotel. Finally, they had a walk on the Sand Engine, benefiting greatly from the beautiful sunny weather, which was a further bonus. The technical visit was sponsored by Boskalis and Van Oord.


Press Release, November 15, 2013