Marker Buoys
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Marker Buoys
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It is no secret that anchors, chain and coral reefs do not mix well.  The reefs always lose.  The purpose of the Reef Protection Marker Buoy Program is to reduce anchor damage in a cost effective manner. 

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This Reef Protection Marker Buoy Program has been one of OUCH's most successful and important endeavors.  This project is as simple as it is effective, involving 4 distinct steps.

1. Select the site.  The term "sensitive site" is used here to denote locations of medium to high conservation value, which are currently under significant anchoring pressure (commercial and recreational) or have exhibited marked deterioration in reef condition.  Reef managers, commercial operators and the public all have input into the site selection process.

2. Reef survey.  The entire sensitive site must be surveyed (above and below water) to determine the extent of damage and to map the edge of the reef for future marking.
3. Installation of marker buoys.  The pyramid-shaped buoys are installed in the seafloor with a drilled/cemented pin.  The buoys delineated the edge of the reef and anchoring in not permitted on the landward side of the buoys.
4. Maintenance.  Due to the wear and tear of the ocean and the occasional public abuse, this part of the project is forever ongoing.  The buoys are inspected and cleaned quarterly.  The tackle and buoys are replaced annually, and recycled when possible. ouchdivers.jpg (9381 bytes)
To date, OUCH has surveyed and marked 10 fringing reefs in the Whitsunday region.  The project has proven quite successful with an estimated 80% reduction in anchor damage.  The marker buoys are now being used throughout the Great Barrier Reef marine park.

It is important to note that moorings, which eliminate the need to drop an anchor, are still recognised as the best tool to prevent anchor damage in the marine environment.  However, moorings are both expensive to install and maintain as well as carry a liability responsibility.  The marker buoys are seen as a cost-effective alternative that can be used in conjunction with a mooring system.


                 Marker Buoys