Dredging is the excavation of material from a water environment. Possible reasons for dredging include improving existing water features; reshaping land and water features to alter drainage, navigability, and commercial use; constructing dams, dikes, and other controls for streams and shorelines; and recovering valuable mineral deposits or marine life having commercial value. In all but a few situations the excavation is undertaken by a specialist floating plant, known as a dredger.
Dredging is carried out in many different locations and for many different purposes, but the main objectives are usually to recover material of value or use, or to create a greater depth of water. Dredges have been classified as suction or mechanical.
Dredging has significant environmental impacts: it can disturb marine sediments, leading to both short and long term water pollution, destroy important seabed ecosystems, and can release human-sourced toxins captured in the sediment.