Seagrass Friendly Moorings
Seagrass beds are one of the most productive ecosystems, providing a habitat for a rich and unique faunal biodiversity, a critical nursery habitat for many species important for commercial and recreational fishing activities, and stabilizing sediments to prevent coastal erosion. They are also a sink for carbon dioxide. Australia has the greatest richness of seagrass species and the largest area of temperate seagrass beds in the world. However, vast areas of seagrass have been lost in recent decades due to declining water quality (mostly from catchment developments), dredging, reclamation, and coastal construction, with flow-on reductions in the ecosystem services normally provided by healthy seagrass. These losses have also occurred in Sydney Harbour.
Recreational boating is an iconic pastime in Sydney Harbour, and there are approximately 4,000 boat moorings. Moorings are a source of pressure on seagrass beds due to the destructive scouring of chains. Research by Professor Bill Gladstone of the University of Technology Sydney is evaluating the effectiveness of a seagrass-friendly mooring that has been designed to eliminate the scouring, and allow seagrasses to recover (when used in place of a traditional swing mooring). The moorings have been installed in Manly Cove. The revolutionary mooring design was a winner of the ABC New Inventors program. The research team is also cooperating with a group of local volunteer divers, who collect the information needed to review the effectiveness of the moorings.