PIANC, the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure, has released EnviCom Guidance Document 124 titled “Dredging and Port Construction: Interactions with Features of Archaeological or Heritage Interest”.
This guidance document is intended to promote the development of good practice for dredging and port construction in relation to underwater cultural heritage, comprising the physical remains of past cultures including:
– Submerged prehistory – evidence of the occupation of prehistoric landscapes at times of lowered sea level;
– Coastal occupation – evidence of activities from the historic coastline that have been subsumed by the sea, due to erosion or flooding for example;
– Maritime – evidence dating from the prehistoric period to the modern era relating to human exploitation of the sea;
– Aviation – evidence dating from the advent of fixed wing-aviation in the early 1900s to c. the mid-20th century.
Marine heritage is a valuable, fragile, finite and non-renewable resource and physical impacts arising from dredging and port construction can result in permanent adverse effects. However, statutory protection for underwater cultural heritage is variable internationally and the need to consider these physical impacts is often poorly understood.