Environmental Effects of Beaufort Sea Causeways

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by J. M. Colonell, Woodward-Clyde Consultants, Anchorage, United States,
B. J. Gallaway, Woodward-Clyde Consultants, Anchorage, United States,
A. W. Niedoroda, Woodward-Clyde Consultants, Anchorage, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Engineering Practice

Abstract: Two gravel-fill causeways have been constructed into the shallow nearshore Beaufort sea on the north coast of Alaska for the development of petroleum reservoirs. These long (4-8 km) structures alter local circulation patterns through their interaction with coastal currents. Regulatory agencies fear that causeway-induced alterations of local hydrography are detrimental to the habitat of anadromous fish that inhabit the coastal waters each summer. Further, they fear that the causeways, along with the presumed habitat alterations, impede movements of fish along the Beaufort Sea coast such that entire anadromous populations are threatened. Numerous environmental monitoring studies, conducted over the past 15 years, have produced an unprecedented quantity of data with which to address these concerns. Joint studies of the accumulated data by biologists and oceanographers have concluded that the causeways have induced no population-level effects on indigenous anadromous fish species.

Subject Headings: Causeways | Seas and oceans | Coastal environment | Environmental issues | Fish management | Ocean currents | Gravels | Water circulation | Beaufort Sea | North America | Alaska | United States

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