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Guidelines for the location of new offshore dumping sites


The study is an example of how MSP and ecosystem based principles and actual planning process has influenced the search and assessment of new disposal sites at the nearshore of Lithuania.

Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Coherence with other processes:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer

  • How to select new dumping site in applying maritime spatial planning principles?
  • What is a concrete application of Maritime Spatial Planning principles?

Implementation Context

These Guidelines have been developed in the context of the Ecodump project, which aims to apply ecosystem principles for the location and management of offshore dumping sites in South Eastern Baltic Region.

Aspects / Objectives

These Guidelines aim to promote the “eco‐dumping” approach, i.e. considering the selection of the sites for disposal of clean sandy material to sustain the sediment balance in the near shore. This allows minimizing the costs of disposal operations as well as serves as additional source of sandy matter contributing to maintenance of good status of the sandy beaches. The study promotes the integration of findings of scientific research, modelling of hydrodynamic conditions and behaviour of disposed mater. Additionally the principles of marine spatial planning while finding the suitable places for beneficial disposal at sea have been applied.


The practice first reviews the existing International and European legislation and guidelines regarding the disposal of dredged materials. The existing permitting and disposal regulations in the South-Eastern Baltics, namely in Lithuania, Poland and Russia, are then presented.

In a fifth part, the practice presents a method to select new sites of disposal based on the respect of the Maritime Spatial Planning principles, the Ecosystem based ones and descriptors of Good Environmental Status.

Main Outputs / Results

In practice, the selection of a disposal site is part of the complete application for the dredging and further utilization of dredge material. If no beneficial use is applicable, dredge material has to first be evaluated to ensure suitability for sea disposal. Several aspects have to be considered prior to looking for a place for sea disposal:

  • Amount and composition of the material;
  • State, physical properties and lithological type of the material (especially grain size distribution and degree of consolidation);
  • Chemical and biochemical properties;
  • Radioactivity and toxicity level.

The practice points out that the existing legislation in South‐Eastern Baltic does not address the establishment of disposal sites at the sea. Although there are no officially approved planning procedures, countries have clearly identified general principles of selection of disposal sites and also have an obligation to full fill the national procedures of environmental impact assessment before the permission is granted.

The countries first have to apply Planning Principles. When successfully established, MSP is the first document to consider while looking for the most sustainable alternative for new disposal site. This would save the time for planning and permitting efforts. If MSP is not in place, identification of new site for disposal has to follow the main principles and steps of MSP:

1) Identification of the relevant maritime stakeholders interested in using the same marine area and/or the resources
2) Analysis of existing ecological and socio‐economic conditions – state of the art report on existing natural, cultural and social assets.
3) Mapping of spatial distribution of current uses.
4) Screening of existing regulations and legal frameworks of different sea uses in order to identify the existing and potential conflicts.
5) Evaluating the economic viability. The distance of the proposed dumping site from the dredging site is a major factor to be considered
6) Evaluating the size of the disposal area(s)
7) Evaluating the location of the disposal area(s)
8) Developing the alternative spatial solutions and ensuring that consultations with involved stakeholders are in place

The countries also have to apply Ecosystem based principles to select new sites of disposal. Those key principles are:

  • Environmental conditions and state of the key ecological parameters are maintained (“good environmental status” concept)
  • Ensure that the connectivity (“blue corridor” concept) between most valuable ecological areas is maintained
  • The placement of valuable sandy sediments is based on the hydrodynamic conditions of the area and contributes maintaining the sediment balance at the nearshore (“eco‐dumping” concept)

The practice then introduces other criteria that have to be taken into account while looking for new dumping sites: the descriptors of Good Environmental Status (GES) that are assessed during the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Those descriptors are the following:

  • biodiversity is maintained
  • the sea floor integrity ensures functioning of the ecosystem
  • permanent alteration of hydrographical conditions does not adversely affect the ecosystem
  • concentrations of contaminents give no effects


This practice focuses on a really specific geographical zone: the South-Eastern Baltic region. However, the criteria presented to select new sites for disposal could be applied to other regions and sea basins.

Contact Person

Nerijus Blažauskas

Klaipeda University Coastal Research and Planning Institute


Responsible Entity

Klaipeda University

Costs / Funding Source

Partly financed by the South Baltic Interreg Programme .