This browser is not fully supported by Historic England. Please update your browser to the latest version so that you get the best from our website.

Marine Exploitation Impacts NHPP Activity 2D2

Research carried out 2011-2015 about the effect that exploitation of resources in the marine environment has on England's heritage of submerged landscapes and wrecks. This work was part of the National Heritage Protection Plan.

A mammoth tooth, recorded through the British Marine Aggregate Producers Association reporting protocol
A mammoth tooth, recorded through the British Marine Aggregate Producers Association reporting protocol © Wessex Archaeology, courtesy of Tarmac Marine Dredging

Scope of the activity

The passage of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 recognised the rapid increase in the exploitation of the marine environment. Submerged landscapes, wrecks and other sub-tidal heritage assets are under increasing risk. Fishing and dredging continue to have an effect on this heritage. Sustainable exploitation of marine resources required understanding of the impacts and their distribution in relation to that of heritage assets. We then developed suitable management strategies for the most immediate threats and in the most significant areas.

Projects in this activity

Marine aggregates reporting protocol

This project provided funds through an agreement between Historic England, The Crown Estate and the British Marine Aggregate Producers Association (BMAPA), to promote awareness of the marine aggregates reporting protocol scheme. This scheme ensures that news about finds, made by dredging company staff, is regularly disseminated to BMAPA members and other interested groups, through newsletters, as well as supporting site visits and workshops to train dredger and wharf-based staff in identifying and reporting archaeological material. The ongoing scheme also produces an annual report, prepared by the project contractor Wessex Archaeology and published each November. Find out more about the BMAPA protocol from the Wessex Archaeology website.

Historic England staff incorporated information about finds derived from the BMAPA recording protocol into the National Record of the Historic Environment alongside other data about England's heritage. You can search this resource, with its strong marine heritage component, online through the PastScape website.

Assessing impacts of fishing on the marine historic environment

In this project the Activity examined the potential effects of marine fishing activities on the historic environment and how appropriate management and mitigation responses might be developed. The project was a desk based study of existing resources and considered the full range of features that comprise the historic environment. It investigated the variety of fishing techniques and methods practiced today to determine their potential for interaction with the marine historic environment. 

The project considered how fishing techniques and methodologies seek to avoid seabed sites or actively seek seabed anomalies to support fishing activities. It also looked at the impact caused directly, for example from towed fishing gear, or indirectly for example from the accumulation of discarded fishing gear and entanglement on a site. The study also identified further research requirements and how appropriate mitigation and management measures might be developed and implemented through an action plan. Find out more in the project report.

Marine fisheries protocols for the reporting of archaeological discoveries

It has long been realised that the fishing sector is an important source of information about the marine historic environment and there are numerous instances of important seabed archaeological discoveries occurring because of fishing gear becoming entangled or trapped on previously unknown sites. It is also the case that archaeological material might be inadvertently recovered in nets and pots and this project provided an opportunity to pilot a voluntary reporting protocol with the inshore fisheries sector in conjunction with the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.

The protocol will help support the reporting of discoveries and the project contractors, Wessex Archaeology, have produced explanatory material to demonstrate how people involved in the fishing industry can report finds effectively. An example of a reported find is a 17th century seal top spoon. Articles about the project have also featured in local media and national press as well as trade publications such as Fishing News and the fisheries newsletter produced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Issue 23, Autumn 2011). See the report on the pilot project to find out more.

Development and delivery of a pilot marine geotechnical training course for archaeologists

The objectives of this project were to:

  • Deliver an assessment of the skills shortages for geo-archaeological interpretation and analysis using marine geotechnical survey material (e.g. borehole core samples).
  • Based on this assessment, to prepare and deliver a pilot course which will support development of technical knowledge among national and local curatorial bodies as a recognised component of professional development.

This project produced a training requirements report, which is based on a web-based survey to identify knowledge gaps and training needs in marine geotechnical techniques. You can access a copy of this market intelligence report on the Historic England website. Based on the results of the market intelligence report, a pilot training event took take place at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton between 13-15 January 2015.

Tablewear dating to the 18th century, recorded through the British Marine Aggregate Producers Association reporting protocol
Tablewear dating to the 18th century, recorded through the British Marine Aggregate Producers Association reporting protocol © Wessex Archaeology, courtesy of Tarmac Marine Dredging

Links with other NHPP activities

The key links were to NHPP work on:

A cannon ball recorded through the British Marine Aggregate Producers Association reporting protocol
A cannon ball recorded through the British Marine Aggregate Producers Association reporting protocol © Wessex Archaeology, courtesy of Hanson Aggregate Marine
Was this page helpful?

Related publications

Next steps