Buoy zone: Our latest seagrass restoration work in ‘No Anchor Zone’ at Portland Harbour

2 minute read

We recently partnered with Salcombe Distilling Company to install buoys marking out a ‘No Anchor Zone’ in Portland Harbour, which will protect seagrass – and its inhabitants - from damage by boat anchors

Last month, we furthered our efforts of protecting vital seagrass habitats, partnering with Salcombe Distilling Co. to install six ‘No Anchor Zone’ buoys which mark a voluntary no anchor zone in Portland Harbour.

We’ve been working alongside Seasearch, Portland Harbour Authority, and Castle Cove Sailing Club since September last year, looking at how to protect their local stretch of seagrass, which lies in a mooring field used by vessels from the Sailing Club.

We decided to use the generously offered funds from Salcombe Distilling Company to mark the area as a voluntary No Anchor Zone, as yachts anchoring in the mooring field were causing issues with mooring holders, as well as damaging seagrass.

Boats from outside the area are prohibited from anchoring between the moored boats at Castle Cove Sailing Club, which has been recently designated a ‘No Anchor Zone’ by Portland Harbour Authority. The zone will help to conserve natural habitats, including a seagrass bed of between 20 and 30 hectares, protecting it and the marine life it supports.

Portland Harbour Marine Notice - No anchor Zone

A notice to mariners issued by Portland Harbour Authority

Dr Jean-Luc Solandt, our Principal Specialist on Marine Protected Areas said:

"Seagrass absorbs as much carbon - if not more - than long-standing forests. But we need to protect it from traditional anchoring for these delicate ecosystems to work for us. By stopping the damage done by anchors and chains which drag along it, we can protect the seabed and help secure the future for Portland's seagrass.”

Anchoring has been found to rip up seagrass, damaging the grasses and their root systems as the anchors drag along the seabed. Moored boats also attract boats from outside the harbour which are looking for somewhere safe to anchor; more boats mooring and dropping anchors therefore causes further damage to the seagrass.

No Anchor Zone - Castle Cove

Credit: Portland Harbour Authority Limited

Preventing boats from dropping their anchors in the ‘no anchor zone’ means that the seagrass bed is better protected and can continue to act as a home for marine life and absorb carbon. As we continue our work to restore and conserve vital seagrass habitats, we installed six buoys to mark the no anchor zone, which will be monitored for the next three years.

Members from our team headed out to the water in Portland Harbour to install the buoys with contractor, Quest, and were accompanied by a team from Salcombe Distilling Co. who filmed the process.

We’ve been working to protect seagrass since 2018. We recently installed 17 'Advanced Mooring Systems’ in Cawsand Bay, Plymouth, which do not scrape the seabed in the same way traditional moorings do. We've been monitoring the seabed ever since.

We’re now planning the next stages for this project, as we look for ways to further protect the UK’s vital seagrass habitats. We’ll be continuing to monitor the current no anchor zone and mooring systems in place as we explore how we can introduce more of these much needed and beneficial protections.

Salcombe Distilling Co. has been supporting MCS since June 2021, donating 1% from sales of Salcombe Gin and the New London Light collection. From July 2022, their donations will increase as they add additional products to their ocean initiative.