Assessing the Environmental Impact of Anchoring Cruise Liners in Falmouth Bay
Ports are coming under increasing pressure to manage their operations in an environmentally sustainable manner. This pressure comes from legal requirements, national agencies, planning inquiries and local activists (Wooldridge et al 1999). Ports have tended to react to such demands by making environmental policies and audits, always playing catch-up to the latest problem. An alternative approach is to be pro-active in seeking out environmental concerns at an early stage, assessing the scientific evidence of harm in the context of the specific port, and taking mitigating action according to the evidence. This is the basis of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership between the University of Plymouth and Falmouth Harbour Commissioners (FHC), who run a small trust port in South West England. The Port of Falmouth enjoys over thirty cruise calls a year. Smaller cruise liners can berth within the docks, but larger ships must anchor in Falmouth Bay, a Marine Special Area of Conservation, and tender their passengers ashore. Anchoring directly affects the benthic habitat through smothering, abrasion and disturbance. The noise and visual intrusion of vessels create an indirect impact. Studies into anchoring activities in fragile habitats such as eelgrass beds have led to the strict management of anchoring (Milazzo et al 2002). Falmouth Bay has a rare dead maerl habitat. This paper presents the on-going study, which is assessing the potential environmental impacts of anchoring in the Falmouth bay area. The steps include synthesising existing data on the nature of the seabed, recording actual anchor locations within the bay to identify areas of high anchoring density and identifying the threat that anchoring poses to the species in the maerl habitat. It is know that there are bivalves that live below the surface, so comparative core samples will be air lifted from high and low anchoring density areas.
KeywordsBurial Depth Mooring Line Automatic Identification System Gross Tonnage Anchor Chain
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