Data and analysis support for Environmentally Friendly Moorings Program

Seagrass and impacts visible at the Point Halloran Mooring Area (Nearmap image 01/06/2019)

 

 

Seagrass and impacts (‘boat halos’) visible at the One Mile Mooring Area (Nearmap image 31/05/2018)

 

Seagrass meadows form one of the most important marine habitats globally and occur in shallow coastal waters including parts of South East Queensland and Moreton Bay.  Block and tackle moorings destroy seagrass as the mooring chain drags on the sea floor, creating ‘boat halos’ clearly visible in the images above.

Healthy Land and Water coordinates the recovery of seagrass in priority areas by working with mooring owners to replace existing block and tackle moorings with environmentally friendly moorings (EFM). Delivery is undertaken in close consultation with State Agencies, Traditional Owners, community groups and the boating community.

Healthy Land and Water’s Science, Information and Monitoring and Water by Design Programs are working together to implement the next phase of HLW’s Environmentally Friendly Moorings initiative. The EFM initiative is targeted at improving the outstanding values of the Moreton Bay Marine Park.

Healthy Land and Water’s Science, Information and Monitoring team will continue to conduct data analysis and interpretation to review the values and threats within the Mooring Areas. This data analysis and review will place a special focus on seagrass and the sea floor with the goal of protecting and preserving fish and marine life.

The Science, Information and Monitoring Team will count the number of standard block and tackle mooring devices within each Designated Mooring Area and provide decision making support to inform target priority areas.

Although historically the Designated Mooring Areas were chosen to avoid zones with high coastal values, they are often adjacent to highly valued areas of Moreton Bay. This includes seagrass meadows, coral and reef habitats, mangroves and saltmarsh, sand and mudbanks for waders and shorebirds, fish habitat areas and RAMSAR wetlands.

Using imagery and existing spatial data, the Science, Information and Monitoring Team was able to confirm seagrass presence and record the impact of boat moorings including ‘boat halos’ which leave ‘dead zones’ which are devoid of any habitat values.

The Mooring Areas of North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah at One Mile) and Point Halloran recorded some of the highest levels of seagrass within and adjacent to the Marine National Park. Other priority areas included Moreton Island (Mulgumpin), Macleay, Russell and Coochiemudlo Islands.

To date, there has been an EFM uptake of 70% at North Stradbroke (Minjerribah), 52% at Point Halloran and 74% at Coochiemudlo Island. This next phase of the EFM program will see another 116 old block and tackle moorings replaced with new EFMs in the Moreton Bay Marine Park.

The current EFM program is a partnership with Maritime Safety Queensland, Department of Environment and Science, Gold Coast Waterways Authority, the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation, EFM installers and mooring boat holders. More seagrass monitoring is being introduced within the Mooring Areas as part of the Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program.

Healthy Land and Water will look for further opportunities to work with Traditional Owner Groups in monitoring coastal habitats. Currently Healthy Land and Water is scoping a proposal in partnership with Cooloola Coastcare and the Tin Can Bay Working Group to implement the EFM program in the Great Sandy Marine Park in the near future. Overall, boat mooring holders are supportive of the program and the teams are excited to expand EFM uptake.

Click here to view the videos from the fish surveys undertaken by the University of Sunshine Coast as part of the Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program, promoting the importance of fish habitats.

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