The ecological significance and habitat restoration effectiveness of environmentally sensitive (ES) mooring

Mr Lincoln Wong1,2, Dr Tim Lynch2, Dr Rick  Stuart-Smith1, Mr Andrew Martini2, Mrs Lauren Hardiman2, Dr Jeff Ross1

1Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia, 2CSIRO, Battery Point, Australia


With the steady increase in both commercial and recreational boating activities, there is a parallel increase in demand for boat storage infrastructures. One of the common on-site storage methods included the use of moorings within a sheltered area. Yet, traditional mooring design can be detrimental to the surrounding benthic habitat due to the repeated mechanical disturbance from the mooring chain’s movement. This repeated disturbance have demonstrated to impact critical habitats such as seagrass meadows and habitat for the critically endangered spotted handfish (Brachionichthys australis) population. The notable impact from moorings have driven the development of environmentally sensitive (ES) mooring designs, yet currently, there is a limited number of ES mooring adaptations and comprehensive studies on their ecological effects. This experimental trial replaced multiple existing mooring to an ES mooring setup, allowing for a direct lateral and temporal comparison between chain mooring and ES mooring design. Our survey provided first-hand experience on the deployment requirement for replacing existing mooring to ES mooring setup, through a combination of field experience and engineering/ spatial modelling, providing insight on common logistical constraint faced by manager.  In addition, we conducted  a Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) style experiment to survey the demersal fish and infaunal communities adjacent to traditional mooring and ES mooring site, in order to document the changes and potential recovery overtime. Through this multi-disciplinary approach, this study will assess the ecological effectiveness and developing decision-making pathway using technical data obtained to aid future management and the conservation of critically endangered species.


Lincoln is a PhD student with the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, with a particular interest in population ecology and conservation biology. He has been working on the conservation program for the spotted handfish since 2015.