Management of dredging impacts in Australian ports

Open Lines has jointly delivered a number of port and dredging related projects with Adaptive Strategies Pty Ltd.

Client: Queensland Department of State Development, North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP), TasPorts

The Projects

Since 2012, Open Lines has jointly delivered a number of port and dredging related projects with Adaptive Strategies Pty Ltd. Jen, Peter and John have worked on projects that have:

  • Identified, described and mapped key environmental values within onshore and offshore port environments

  • Undertaken detailed impact assessments for dredging programs

  • Used a structured decision making process (SDM) to inform port planning processes (including dredging operations)

  • Delivered a long-term dredging management strategy that managed port dredging operations at several locations

What we did

Dredging within the marine environment can often be a high profile, complex issue that involves consideration of environmental, economic and social values. This is particularly true for existing ports within Queensland where issues such as potential impacts to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area from capital and maintenance dredging programs have received increased attention over the last 5 years.

Open Lines and Adaptive Strategies have been working together to provide services to assist DSD, NQBP and TasPorts improve on the long-term environmental outcomes and management of ports at a number of locations. The following example provides a case study of where we have used a number of environmental planning and assessment tools to assist NQBP to deliver the best environmental outcome for proposed dredging programs at the Port of Hay Point in Queensland.

Port of Hay Point Sustainable Sediment Management Project

NQBP commissioned Open Lines in partnership with Adaptive Strategies to assist them to make an informed decision about the ongoing management of sediments that are dredged from within port channels for maintenance purposes. A critical issue for the port was that disposing of dredged sediments in the GBR was perceived by the public and other stakeholders to be having a greater impact on the environment than the potential for disposing material onshore. Open Lines undertook a set of work to provide NQBP with a structured process supported by high quality information to assist their environmental management decisions and determine how well other potential disposal options performed. This specifically included:

  • Clear mapping and documenting of key environmental, social and cultural values

  • Organisation of key data in an easily accessible database

  • SDM as a tool to analyse long-term onshore and offshore dredge disposal options transparently and methodically with a range of stakeholders

  • Detailed impact self-assessment to further review against outcomes from SDM analysis

The use of these tools identified that while onshore disposal is perceived to be a better option for management of dredged sediments, the comparative analysis (supported by detailed technical studies) identified that offshore disposal provided an overall better environmental, economic and social outcome, especially regarding impacts to the World Heritage Area. The processes and outcomes of all parts of this work were all well received and supported by stakeholders.

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