Environmental management of ports and harbours -- implementation of policy through scientific monitoring
Recent legislation aimed specifically at protecting the marine environment has had a direct impact on the environmental management of port and harbour operations. Effective implementation of suitable policies requires options and responses based on scientific data derived from appropriate technology and methodology. UK ports, operating under an increasingly European regime in terms of legislation, have responded to the environmental challenge through a series of organisational and research initiatives. Fundamental to the notion of sustainable port development is the ability to characterise environmental performance through appropriate monitoring and mapping protocols. Monitoring, the systematic and repeated measurement of the direct or indirect effect of our activity or contaminant on the environment, can play a crucial role in verifying implementation of port policy and evaluating the effectiveness of the management option. Aspects such as adherence to specific regulatory standards, investigation of pollution trends, provision of research data, measurements for the development of standards and early warning of critical changes in certain parameters are all facilitated by an appropriate monitoring protocol. The long established techniques of monitoring physical and chemical parameters to assess environmental quality are increasingly being supplemented by ecological monitoring programmes. By mapping marine habitats with their associated communities and species, the vulnerability and sensitivity of the habitats to port operations can be found and biological indicators such as the occurrence of particular species, species richness and diversity indices can be identified to assist decision making on environmental protection issues.
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