Preliminary Assessment of Potential Impacts to Dungeness Crabs from Disposal of Dredged Materials from the Columbia River

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Dredging of the Columbia River navigation channel has raised concerns about dredging-related impacts on Dungeness crabs (Cancer magister). The overall objectives of this effort are to synthesize what is known about disposal effects on Dungeness crabs (Phase 1) and to offer approaches to quantify the effects, including approaches to gain a population-level perspective on any effects found in subsequent studies (Phase 2). This report documents Phase 1, which included (1) development of a conceptual model to integrate knowledge about crab biology and the physical processes occurring during disposal, (2) application of physics-based numerical modeling of the disposal event to understand ... continued below

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Pearson, Walter H.; Miller, Martin C.; Williams, Greg D.; Kohn, Nancy P. & Skalski, John R. February 1, 2006.

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Dredging of the Columbia River navigation channel has raised concerns about dredging-related impacts on Dungeness crabs (Cancer magister). The overall objectives of this effort are to synthesize what is known about disposal effects on Dungeness crabs (Phase 1) and to offer approaches to quantify the effects, including approaches to gain a population-level perspective on any effects found in subsequent studies (Phase 2). This report documents Phase 1, which included (1) development of a conceptual model to integrate knowledge about crab biology and the physical processes occurring during disposal, (2) application of physics-based numerical modeling of the disposal event to understand the physical forces and processes to which a crab might be exposed during disposal, (3) conduct of a vulnerability analysis to identify the potential mechanisms by which crabs may be injured, and (4) recommendations of topics and approaches for future studies to assess the potential population-level effects of disposal on Dungeness crabs. The conceptual model first recognizes that disposal of dredged materials is a physically dynamic process with three aspects: (1) convective descent and bottom encounter, (2) dynamic collapse and spreading, and (3) mounding. Numerical modeling was used to assess the magnitude of the potentially relevant forces and extent of mounding in single disposal events. The modeling outcomes show that predicted impact pressure, shear stress, and mound depth are greatly reduced by discharge in deep water, and somewhat reduced at longer discharge duration. The analysis of numerical modeling results and vulnerabilities indicate that the vulnerability of crabs to compression forces under any of the disposal scenarios is low. For the deep-water disposal scenarios, the maximum forces and mounding do not appear to be sufficiently high enough to warrant concern for surge currents or burial at the depths involved (over 230 ft). For the shallow-water (45 to 65 ft), short-duration disposal scenarios, the shear force and surge currents estimated from the modeling and observed previously in the field at Palos Verdes, California appear to be sufficiently high to mobilize and transport the bottom sediment and at least juvenile crab. Behavioral response to surge currents probably occurs and may reduce the occurrence and extent of movement and any associated impacts. There evidence that burial by dredged materials can effect crab survival, but confounding factors in previous experiments preclude conclusions about thresholds and extent of effects. We recommend that future studies focus on burial effects during shallow water, short duration disposal events and take into account the potential for behavioral responses to mitigate any effects.

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  • Report No.: PNNL-15477
  • Grant Number: AC05-76RL01830
  • DOI: 10.2172/890722 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 890722
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc883989

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  • February 1, 2006

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 21, 2016, 2:29 a.m.

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  • Nov. 30, 2016, 5:11 p.m.

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Pearson, Walter H.; Miller, Martin C.; Williams, Greg D.; Kohn, Nancy P. & Skalski, John R. Preliminary Assessment of Potential Impacts to Dungeness Crabs from Disposal of Dredged Materials from the Columbia River, report, February 1, 2006; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc883989/: accessed August 16, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.