Mooring System

As the Red Sea has grown in popularity, so has the number of private and commercial boats using the waters. Sadly, one of the biggest threats to the preservation of coral reefs is physical damage caused by anchors. Mooring buoy systems can significantly reduce this damage and eliminate the need for anchoring on the reefs.

Since its foundation in the early 1990's HEPCA has been responsible for developing, installing and maintaining a boat mooring system to protect the fragile coral reefs of the Red Sea. A combination of private funding, donations, and initiatives have enabled HEPCA, in cooperation with the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agecy (EEAA), to raise the necessary finance to install and maintain the mooring buoy system.

How Moorings protect coral reefs

Physical damage to coral reefs from anchors is a well documented marine resource protection problem. When boats attach their anchors to a reef, the action of attachment and the pressure on the chains caused by swell underwater can rip reefs apart and destroy delicate marine life. By far the most effective way to reduce damage is the installation of mooring buoys for anchoring boats.

Any area that receives boat traffic can benefit from mooring buoys, which can be integrated into a comprehensive resource protection management strategy. In addition to reducing anchor damage to living corals, buoys can act as an important management tool, and can also serve as a convenient way for skippers to secure their vessels while enjoying the unique coral reef communities.
All mooring buoy systems consist of three elements: a permanent fixture on the sea bottom; a floating buoy on the water surface; and something in between to attach the two. Sea bottom characteristics usually dictate what type of system is most suitable. The Halas system is most successful in areas with flat, solid bedrock.

The Manta Ray on the other hand is recommended for areas of sand, coral rubble, or a combination of bottom types.

HEPCA works hand in hand with the EEAA to ensure correct use of the buoys and to implement EEAA regulations as part of a comprehensive resource protection management strategy.The project has also provided ungoing training to boat captains and crews on the proper use of these buoys. Since 1998 more than 800 boat skippers have received best practice training in their use and additional environmental awareness. Buoys protect reefs, but only if we use them, and use them correctly. HEPCA’s major commitment is to keep these moorings floating and functional and to transfer the mooring technology whenever and wherever it is needed.

Protecting marine ecology for the future

HEPCA believes strongly in the concept of technology transfer and is currently working as the implementing partner for a pioneering project to install sustainable mooring systems and train others in their use and maintenance throughout the whole of the Red Sea region. This highly significant project aims to spread a best practice mooring culture throghout the Red Sea region and includes such countries as Djibouti, Jordan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

HEPCA looks forward to continuing to contribute to this positive technology transfer amongst neighbouring countries and communities in support of the growing environmental consciousness throughout our region.

Using the Buoy

  • Approach upwind of the buoy, against the current.
  • Add rope to create slack with the mooring buoy.
  • Larger vessels (those with a length of 25 metres or more), must let out extra rope to create a horizontal pull on the buoy – avoiding close contact with the buoy itself.
  • Smaller vessels (those below 25 metres in length), should only tie off to each other on calm days. Due to the weight imposed on the buoy system, the number of vessels tying off to each other should be limited to 3 at a time to avoid damage to the buoy system or vessels themselves.
  • Buoys are available on a first come, first serve basis for everyone. If it is not possible to tie off on a buoy, please consider an alternative site and do not use an anchor or tie a line directly onto the reef or wreck.
  • Manoeuvre slowly in the area of buoys and watch carefully for snorkelers, swimmers and divers.
  • Inspect the mooring buoy you are tied and make sure the system is secure.
  • Never tie a pick-up line directly to the boat.
  • By increasing the length of the line on wind days, the boat has a better ride.
  • Mooring astern is not permitted as the increased surface exposed to the wind lead to an excessive stress on the system.
  • Please report any damaged or missing buoys, rope or part of the system.