Globally, disposal from dredging continues to increase in this era of the blue capitalocene; a marine era dominated by capital and humans (Anbleyth-Evans, 2018b). Demand for larger ports and shipping is resulting in persistent changes to ecosystems (de Jonge et al., 2014), altering benthic community structure and reducing species richness and biodiversity (Ware et al., 2010; Bolam et al., 2016). From the expansion of the Panama Canal (Meek, 1923), to the beginning of the Nicaraguan Canal (Goffman, 1968), to the decrease of the seabed of the River Scheldt, and the construction of multiple ports in India, Australia (Goffman, 1968), China, Malaysia, and beyond (Manap and Voulvous, 2015), anthropogenic ecological change continues without local communities enjoying parity of participation in an environmentally just form. Many ports and harbours around the world, including Britain's, are situated at river mouths, meaning that ports must conduct dredging to ensure that approach channels are sufficiently deep for vessels, and the amount of dredged material has increased over time, due to increasing draughts (Sys et al., 2008). While off-shore dumping might seem insignificant from land, the ecological impacts are significant to local communities, while dumping decision-making are based on national demands for economic growth (Mansfield, 2004; Pinkerton and Davis, 2015). Realising environmental justice requires using an ecosystem approach to inform governance by integrating local and expert knowledge (Agyeman, 2005). The case studies from Southern England presented here demonstrate a broader international significance: the value of marine local ecological knowledge (LEK), that is the knowledge of non-scientists working in ecosystems, who experience an evolving influence from science, technology, and governance (Anbleyth-Evans, 2018b). Local democratic decision-making on ecological-process impacts can include local expertise in participation and development while improving overall understanding. Participation can lead to adaptive co-management, with LEK detecting changes through monitoring (Armitage et al., 2009). However, integrating LEK into governmental monitoring and equalising power structures remains challenging, as different forms of evidence are not treated equally (Anbleyth-Evans and Lacy, 2019). Indeed, there is a need for the democratisation of the process, which would include how different value systems couch different forms of evidence. Marine LEK can play an enhanced role in ecological monitoring, filling gaps that scientists cannot reach (Wilson and Kleban, 1992; Pauly, 1995; Johannes et al., 2008). LEK's participation in marine governance is not adequately acknowledged, with increased knowledge-sharing between fishers and scientists influencing scientific research, and with feedbacks returning to coastal communities (Anbleyth-Evans, 2018a). In this way, marine LEK can inform the ecological norms of civil society, and a better-informed society may have a greater appetite for stronger sustainability solutions (Eagle et al., 2018). LEK be can be linked to impact assessment on other cultural services, which it can preserve by identifying ecological risks. It shows why certain forms of evidence are validated while others are not, underlining why a major shift in political governance is needed in order to realise the parity of participation that is possible through decentralisation of marine governance. Here, we use a case-study approach, utilising two locales in Southern England to examine the ways that marine LEK was marshalled in order to improve local governance of areas affected by dumping of dredged sediments from nearby ports. Our objective was to (a) demonstrate the value of marine stakeholders’ LEK in port development and dumping and provide a participatory mechanism for its inclusion, and (b) indicates how LEK can spotlight environmental injustice.



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Peninsula Medical School