Docks, breakwaters, and other harbour works were built by hand and often in a grand scale. Basic source of modern literature on coastal engineering is the "European Code of Conduct for Coastal Zones" issued by the European Council in 1999. This document was prepared by the Group of Specialists on Coastal Protection and should be used 'as a source of inspiration for national legislation and practice' by decision makers.
The Group of Specialists on Coastal Protection (PE-S-CO), set up in 1995, pursuant to a decision by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, met for the first time on 6 and 7 June 1996. It noted that a great deal of technical and scientific research had been carried out in the field of coastal protection and that various principles and legal texts had been drawn up. It also noted that all of the work undertaken highlighted the need for integrated management and planning of coastal areas, but that, despite all the efforts already made, the situation of coastal areas continued to deteriorate. The Group had acknowledged that this was due to difficulties in implementing the concept of "integrated management", and that it was becoming necessary to provide instruments which would make it easier to apply the principles of integrated coastal management and planning, which had to be pursued to ensure sustainable management of coastal areas. The Group therefore proposed that the Council of Europe, in close co-operation with the European Union for Coastal Conservation (EUCC) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The final version of the Code as well of the a MODEL LAW to be used as a guide for modefying local and national legislation, can be free downloaded from the web.
Ancient harbour works are still visible in a few of the harbours that exist today, while others have recently been explored by underwater archaeologists. Most of the grander ancient harbor works have disappeared following the fall of the Roman Empire.
Most ancient coastal efforts were directed to port structures, with the exception of a few places where life depended on coastline protection. Venice and its lagoon is one such case. Protection of the shore in Italy, England and the Netherlands can be traced back at least to the 6th century. The ancients understood such phenomena as the Mediterranean currents and wind patterns and the wind-wave cause-effect link.
The Romans introduced many revolutionary innovations in harbor design. They learned to build walls underwater and managed to construct solid breakwaters to protect fully exposed harbors. In some cases wave reflection may have been used to prevent silting. They also used low, water-surface breakwaters to trip the waves before they reached the main breakwater. They became the first dredgers in the Netherlands to maintain the harbour at Velsen. Silting problems here were solved when the previously sealed solid piers were replaced with new "open"-piled jetties.
The threat of attack from the sea caused many coastal towns and their harbours to be abandoned. Other harbours were lost due to natural causes such as rapid silting, shoreline advance or retreat, etc. The Venetian Lagoon was one of the few populated coastal areas with continuous prosperity and development where written reports document the evolution of coastal protection works.
Engineering and scientific skills remained alive in the east, in Byzantium, where the Eastern Roman Empire survived for six hundred years while Western Rome decayed.
Although great strides were made in the general scientific arena, little…