New eco-moorings project off Plymouth replacing damaging anchorage


Princess Yachts Collaborate with Marine Conservation Society to Support National Marine Aquarium to Install Eco-Moorings to Protect Delicate Marine Ecosystem

Princess, together with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and the National Marine Aquarium (NMA) have replaced old moorings with new eco-friendly ones that have been shown to allow environmentally important seagrass beds to recover, after damage caused by traditional mooring methods.  The Princess funded project spans three years with ‘helical’ mooring installations in Cawsand Bay and Kingsand Bay, Plymouth.

The ‘helical’ moorings project is being funded by Plymouth-based Princess Yachts in a joint, three year venture with the Marine Conservation Society, and the National Marine Aquarium.

Seagrass meadows are a crucial part of the marine ecosystem – they stabilise seabeds, lock in CO2 more efficiently than rainforests, host larval and juvenile fish and seahorses, and are great breeding grounds for cuttlefish and sharks in UK seas. But they are extremely vulnerable when traditional moorings using chains that drag along the seabed through the seagrass are used.

The helical devices simply screw (like a large corkscrew) into the sandy seabed. They are 2m long with one or two large rotational blades (about 30cm across) that turn into the sediment. This locks the device into place. It then has a chain link that is lifted to the surface by small buoys to a larger mooring buoy. This means that the actual footprint on the seabed is only 40cm across therefore much smaller than that of a conventional mooring.

Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, MCS Principal Specialist Marine Protected Areas, says: “We’ve installed five ‘helical’ moorings that  are screwed into the seabed. These are then attached to a chain, called the NMA Stirling Eco Mooring, that rises up above the seabed with buoys attached along its length to a large surface mooring buoy which has a rope attached to it. The chain that rises to the surface from the seabed therefore never touches or scrapes around the seagrass bed itself, and will likely result in recovery of seagrass.

We believe we’ll be protecting something like 0.5km square of seagrass bed with our project in the first year. We hope to cover the entire bed within three years, if the project proves successful,” says Dr Solandt. “The seagrass bed is considered to currently be in ‘unfavourable condition’ by Natural England. If the project is successful we hope it will lead to other areas using this cheap and practical technology where there has been animosity between local conservationists and boat owners over calls for anchor bans. These eco options offer a potential solution to future stand-offs.”

Kiran Haslam, Marketing Director, Princess Yachts said “Three years ago we set in place an initiative in marine conservation, and every year we renew and strengthen our commitment to MCS.  The delicate seagrass eco system is now in need of our attention and Cawsand Bay lies at the mouth of the river Tamar, a stone’s throw from our home city of Plymouth. We’re proud to be able to support this pioneering initiative that will give the seagrass beds an opportunity to repair themselves.”

For more information about the Marine Conservation Society visit their website by clicking here.

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