The ports and navigation canals are essential for the global economy, which various productive, logistic and industrial activities depend on. Some of the activities linked to port are maritime transport, shipbuilding, fishing, sports or cruise ships.
However, the development of these economic activities over time brought with it a series of environmental consequences, as result of pollution by hydrocarbons, marine litter, dredges and landfills, organic pollution, etc. The most relevant consequences of these factors include the loss or fragmentation of habitats, water quality decreasement and impacts on marine organisms.
Lately, the Vigo Port Authority has made a great effort in the reduction and control of spills in its waters, achieving the reduction of this risk to the highest levels. It has opted to develop general action lines such as the recovery of degraded ecosystems due to industrial activity (shipyards, urban discharges, etc.) and the city of Vigo itself, the coexistence between industrial activity and ecology, the minimization of its environmental impact, the reduction of the carbon footprint of port activities and enhancing the growth of native plants and animals.
There are two priority areas of action: The Bouzas’ docks, damaged as a result of the industrial activity itself, and the biological contamination related to the wooden platforms used for intensive mussel cultivation or shellfish areas.
All these actions have been integrated as PORT GREENING. The development and implementation of this line contributes to the achievement of the ultimate goal of the Port of Vigo, which is to become the Green Port reference in southern Europe. That’s the reason why several solutions are enlisted as projects, such as:
- Analysis of the seafloor: The Vigo Port Authority has carried out the study in detail of several areas, to study the seafloor conditions in the docks’ areas. Results have shown that the most affected area is the Bouzas’ dock. For this reason, it’s a priority to wok on its regeneration.
- Ecological dredging: This work area has been integrated into a previous project for which adequate funding sources are being identified. Its objective is to explore the possibility of carrying out ecological dredging and sludge extraction with a lower environmental impact through technological solutions that allow the identification of environmentally sustainable alternatives in this type of activities, thus reducing the pressure on the marine environment. This way, the dispersion of pollutants released during dredging would be expected to be avoided, turbidity would be reduced, etc. Technology prototypes are currently being developed to achieve this objective, and the Port of Vigo will be the place where dredging tests will be carrried out, which will be distributed over several working days. In addition, it is intended to verify that methodologies are replicable and extrapolatable to other actions and locations. Finally, the environmental improvements of this process will be quantified, recording the dredging operations in real time and quantifying the environmental impact of the dredging operations by analyzing the contamination of the materials removed, the surrounding environment and the underwater noise generated.
- Dredging sludge management: Making it more efficient through new stabilization or decontamination technologies (nanotechnology, degradation of pollutants, selective mobile treatment plants).
- Protocols and tools establishment: for work management measures and subsequent monitoring of the environment.
-Good and balanced conditions state for Vigo’s docklands marine ecosystems and to promote the vegetal and animal species growth.
- Green port: to promote marine life, by recovering ecosystems throuegh innovative measures.
- Innovative port: Port Greening also contemplates innovative technological solutions development, such as nanotechnology and ecological dredges.
Ecological dredging and CO2 capture have recently nailed down as projects and been submitted for funding calls or are currently working on their identification. The remaining lines are in the preparation phase to be proposed for possible future calls.