Traditional swing moorings damage the seabed and seagrass, leaving patches which disrupt habitat connectivity, erode sediment and damage valuable fish nursery habitat. Seagrass communities are important nursery habitat for fish and squid, and can be damaged by traditional chain mooring systems, which scour the seabed. NRM South will be working with partners to install Environmentally Friendly Moorings (EFMs) in North West Bay, and the changes in the seagrass communities will be monitored. These moorings are effective in restoring seagrass habitat, and over the last few years the CSIRO has developed solutions to make it easier and cheaper to install them. It is hoped that as a result of this project, EFMs will become more widely used across the region.
North West Bay is a popular and important recreational fishing area and this project will engage recreational fishers to adopt and advocate for a transition to EFMs and participate in State-based planning. It will build the capacity of recreational fishers to educate their community about the value of seagrass habitat. Recreational fishers will measure the impact of transition to EFMs by participating in monitoring activities, including gathering underwater footage for fauna surveys and seagrass extent, for use by scientists.
Threats which this project will address include:
- Chain moorings scour seagrass communities, reducing their extent and creating patchiness in the habitat that can destabilise entire meadows. This can result in catastrophic collapse of meadows during extreme weather events
- Chain moorings erode sediment and remove valuable fish nursery habitat.
- The demand for new moorings is increasing at a rate of 3-4% per annum.
- Chain moorings exclude fish species from habitat by direct mechanical disturbance and, at larger scales, through increased noise
- Extraction of fish stocks through recreational fishing.