Since 2018, we have been collaborating with the University of Wollongong (UOW) to map and assess the impact of offshore anchoring practices off Port Kembla. The project is utilizing sophisticated monitoring techniques, including towed and baited underwater video to survey the seabed for submerged rocky reefs and fish habitat. The aim of the UOW’s interdisciplinary research team is to examine how deep-water anchors affect seabed ecosystems with the goal of it leading to more sustainable anchoring practices in the future through greater understanding of current impacts.
In the intervening 5 years, NSW Ports has continued to support the research team who have produced numerous peer-reviewed academic articles, presented at conferences, hosted workshops and talked in the media about the impacts of anchor scour, particularly from ocean going vessels, on marine ecosystems (links provided).
Acknowledging that anchor scour is destructive and requires attention is the first step in tackling this hidden issue. As the researchers point out, trade by ship is anticipated to double in volume by 2030, driven by population growth and globalized economies and consequently, the routine practice of anchoring by ships will also increase, likely placing further pressure on marine biota exposed to this disturbance.
The outcomes of this research have been shared with government and will contribute to considerations regarding anchorage locations. NSW Ports intents to continue partnering with the UOW to monitor the outcomes of this important research.