Four years ago, the Ocean Conservation Trust and the Marine Conservation Society partnered to install the Advanced Mooring System, resulting in a 212% increase in seagrass cover.
The two groups had teamed up on a project aiming to protect seagrass, whilst continuing to allow safe boat mooring in Cawsand Bay.
This presented a challenge, as traditional anchoring and mooring systems cause damage to fragile seagrass habitats when chains and anchors drag along the seabed. Such systems also use concrete sinker blocks to attach moorings to the seabed, leaving a large damage footprint.
The Advanced Mooring System uses a helical mooring attached to a series of mid-water floats to keep the chain lifted, protecting the seagrass and allowing it to grow undisturbed, successfully overcoming the difficulties presented by attempting to both protect seagrass and allow boats to moor.
The initial project in 2019 installed five systems in Cawsand Bay, with 12 more added in 2021. Cawsand Bay is one of the busiest areas of Plymouth Sound, UK, particularly with tourism and small boat use.
This applied conservation effort with the boating community has had significant positive impact on the seagrass meadows here, so we are very interested to expand this work to other sites.
This work was made possible by the two partners, and funded by Princess Yachts and the Recreational ReMEDIES Project.
Dr Jean Luc-Solandt, Marine Protected Areas Principal Scientist, Marine Conservation Society, said; “It’s incredibly rewarding to see the seagrass meadows reappear after the installation of the Advanced Mooring Systems, restoring a vital habitat for local biodiversity, carbon storage and coastal protection. You can’t get restoration without protection, and by working with the local boating community to protect the seabed, we have collectively given space for this rewilding to take place.
“Against the backdrop of the climate and nature emergency, the success of this simple system shows how pioneering projects can have a mitigating effect on the impacts of climate change, and reverse local biodiversity decline.”
Mark Parry, Head of Ocean Habitat Restoration, Ocean Conservation Trust, stated; “We are delighted to see the positive effect the installation of the Advanced Mooring Systems has had to increase the presence of seagrass in Plymouth Sound, it’s a big win for this sensitive habitat. Protecting and restoring seagrass requires a holistic approach and by finding workable solutions like this, it allows communities to continue enjoying the ocean, whilst having a lesser impact on the environment, allowing both people and nature to peacefully coexist.”