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Reliable and innovative technology for the realization of a sustainable MARINe And coastal seabed management PLAN (LIFE MARINAPLAN PLUS)
Start date: Oct 1, 2016, End date: Dec 31, 2019 PROJECT  ONGOING 

Background Harbours and tidal inlets on coastal areas are subject to a gradual deposition of littoral materials. Without maintenance of the seabed, they become unsuitable for commercial use. Traditional management involved the mechanical withdrawal of the sediments or the construction of marine infrastructures, such as entrance banks and seawards, in order to stabilise the seabed. The use of dredging equipment is the most common solution adopted, since it ensures improved navigability. In the EU, around 200-250 million tonnes (dry weight) of material is dredged in the marine environment every year. Dredging, however, has a high environmental impact on marine flora and fauna, and contributes to the mobilisation of contaminants and pollutants. It is also costly. Innovative solutions are thus required in order to ensure sustainable seabed maintenance of port inlets. The port of Cervia in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna undergoes cyclical inlet silting. Relevant data on port bathymetries (under water depth), in particular from 2009 to date, is available. Past technological solutions, such as seasonal dredging and sand handling through boat propellers and the lengthening docks (completed in 2009), did not solve the problem. The Integrated Maritime Policy seeks to provide a more coherent approach to maritime issues, promoting increased coordination among different policy areas, such as blue growth, marine data and knowledge, maritime spatial planning, integrated maritime surveillance and sea basin strategies. Seabed maintenance of a port inlet is a cross-sectoral issue, since it affects economic, technological and environmental policy. Both the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive encourage the matching of economic activities with environmental needs. Objectives The main aim of the LIFE MARINAPLAN PLUS project is to scale up an innovative and environmentally sustainable technology for marine and coastal management. This technology has been designed in order to avoid the traditional collection of littoral materials near the entrance of harbours, through the use of submerged and static devices called ejectors, which are fed by pressurised water. Ejectors deliver a mixture of water and sediments through a pipe to suitable areas where sediments do not represent an obstacle to navigation. As a result, no turbidity or re-suspension is produced both near the ejectors and at discharge pipeline outlets, in compliance with the Water Framework Directive (WFD), which aims to prevent the deterioration of aquatic ecosystems including coastal water areas. Plant discharge pipeline outlets are located in marine currents in order to enable the natural removal of the sediment. Therefore, the ejectors simply move the sediments that are naturally transported by marine currents from a critical position to another one where sediments can be taken by the same current to somewhere where sediments do not constitute an obstruction to navigation. In compliance with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, LIFE MARINAPLAN PLUS also aims to draw up a plan for the management of the seabed that guarantees that economic activities related to navigability have a negligible impact on the marine environment. The project will test a demo plant and, on the basis of test results, develop a management plan for seabed maintenance that is transferable to other small- and medium-size seaports. Expected results An industrial scale modular plant for the maintenance of the seabed; A demo industrial scale plant for seabed maintenance in the port of Cervia; A management plan that has been drawn up to pay particular attention to the potential replicability of the system. This plan will promote the sustainable management of the sediment, avoiding physical losses and physical damages and reducing disturbance, in particular underwater noise; Guaranteed access for boats to the port throughout the year; A 55% reduction of the yearly costs of maintaining the seabed; and Environmental and economic benefits: the demo plant will be monitored to verify its impact on marine flora and fauna (a sea floor integrity assessment and undersea noise measurements will be carried out). The target is to obtain a reduction of about 3.5 tonnes CO2/year.
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