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New research to make boating “moor” seagrass safe

Transport for NSW is heading underwater in a collaboration with the CSIRO to investigate, design and trial different types of environmentally friendly boat moorings to make sure they are safe and dependable, as well as able to protect seagrass and other marine habitats.

A sand scour caused by heavy chain moorings.

An environmentally friendly mooring minimises contact with the seafloor and seagrass by replacing traditional heavy mooring chain with a flexible, buoyant mooring line. The buoyant line doesn’t drag across the seafloor or damage seagrass and has sufficient strength and elasticity to dampen the action of wind and waves on the moored vessel.

Unfortunately, uptake of environmentally friendly moorings is currently low, so this collaborative research program was established to select and trial different types of environmentally friendly moorings. The aim is to provide information to develop guidelines for the specification, installation and maintenance of environmentally friendly moorings, as well as providing greater confidence in the long-term use of environmentally friendly moorings over traditional moorings.

The Environmentally Friendly Mooring Research Program published a Literature Review of environmentally friendly moorings.

The literature review is the first comprehensive assessment of environmentally friendly moorings of its kind. It encompasses: an evaluation of performance assessment science, a review of on-market environmentally friendly mooring apparatus and recommendations for environmentally friendly mooring designs for in-water trial.

In June to September 2023, twelve environmentally friendly moorings were deployed for a 2-year in-water trial in Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park, Sydney Harbour and Jervis Bay Marine Park.

Different designs of commercially available ‘off-the-shelf’ components were selected and their performance will be monitored in terms of safety and environmental impacts by collecting data from vessel sensors, undertaking carbon sampling and monitoring biodiversity.

The Research Program will also evaluate the lifecycle costs of environmentally friendly moorings and provide an evidence base for the use of environmentally friendly moorings as replacements for traditional chain moorings.

The Environmentally Friendly Mooring Research Program supports the delivery of the Marine Estate Management Strategy Initiative 7 ‘Enabling Safe and Sustainable Boating’ to reduce threats to seagrass.

From NSW Marine Estates – released 15 Jan 2024