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Effectiveness of moorings constructed from rope in reducing impacts to seagrass

Unsworth, Richard K. F., Cullen-Unsworth, Leanne C. ORCID:, Hope, James N., Jones, Benjamin L. H., Lilley, Richard J., Nuuttila, Hanna K., Williams, Beth and Esteban, Nicole E. 2022. Effectiveness of moorings constructed from rope in reducing impacts to seagrass. Oceans 3 (3) , pp. 431-438. 10.3390/oceans3030029

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Seagrass meadows commonly reside in shallow sheltered coastal environments which are typically safe havens for mooring boats. There is evidence from around the globe that the use of common swinging chain moorings leads to halos of bare sediment in otherwise productive seagrass. These halos reduce animal abundance and diversity and lead to a loss of the carbon stored within sediments. To protect and enhance seagrass ecosystem services, low-cost simple solutions are required that can solve the problems of boating-based disturbance. In the present novel study, we provide evidence that the simple replacement of mooring chains with rope can significantly reduce damage to sensitive benthic habitats such as seagrass. At three locations across a range of environmental conditions, we provide evidence that well-established moorings constructed from rope do not damage seagrass. Overall, there was a significant effect (F1,756 = 299.46, p 0.001) of the mooring type and distance from the mooring base. This equates to a 44% increase in seagrass cover within areas around a rope mooring relative to a chain one. Most small boat mooring activity happens within the summer months, therefore large heavy-duty winter mooring systems are not required in many situations, opening opportunities for adapted systems that have a reduced environmental impact. The present study suggests that there is a ready-made, low-technology, low-cost solution already in existence for halting the widespread loss of seagrass from small boat mooring damage and allowing recovery and opportunity for restoration.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:
Publisher: MDPI
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 September 2022
Date of Acceptance: 22 August 2022
Last Modified: 23 May 2023 14:58

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