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Environmentally-friendly mooring trial in Port Stephens

A scuba diver is underwater, with a grid measuring sea grass, next to a  large concrete block used for boat moorings.

A hybrid environmentally friendly mooring in Shoal Bay, showing black MarineFlex attached to a concrete block via a small section of chain. Photo by Roger Laird (DPI-Fisheries).

NSW Maritime is trialling a new type of mooring to protect sensitive seagrass communities while keeping boaters safe at one of their favourite destinations in Shoal Bay, part of the Port Stephens–Great Lakes Marine Park. The trial is progressing well, with positive feedback received from boaters.

These four Environmentally Friendly Moorings (EFMs) are a hybrid design that includes a 4.5t concrete block (gravity-weight) with a MarineFlex elasticated rope system that attaches to the boat.

Conventional moorings use a heavy chain to absorb dynamic loads when the mooring is in use, and this can damage seagrass. However the MarineFlex system is positively buoyant, staying above the seabed, and so does not impact seagrass around the anchor. Using gravity-weight anchors ensures that these moorings can be easily maintained for boaters’ safety.

Since the four EFMs were installed in October 2019, they have been used just as much as the previous conventional moorings.

These new moorings were placed in areas where the seagrass had previously been damaged by conventional moorings. University of NSW and Department of Primary Industries are assisting NSW Maritime with this project by transplanting seagrass into the damaged area and monitoring the return of seagrass around each EFM.

This project contributes to achieving outcomes for the 10-year NSW Marine Estate Management Strategy.

Read more marine estate news.