Reef-World, the team behind Green Fins, has created new guidelines to help Green Fins members reduce the harm they cause marine environments through anchoring. These recommendations are a consolidation of known best practice around the more environmentally friendly alternatives to anchoring. They also outline how to drop anchor with minimal damage to the ecosystem if anchoring must take place. This document focuses only on the environmental aspect of anchoring practices so please follow recommendations from relevant maritime authorities for guidance and due diligence around health and safety, liability etc. Please also be sure to tailor any guidance outlined here to be suitable for the size and weight of your vessel and the depth of the mooring site.
It’s no surprise that the top reef-based diving destinations also house some of the most biodiverse coral reefs in the world. From the Great Barrier Reef to Hawaii, the Caribbean to the Indian ocean and, of course, the Coral Triangle, reefs all around the world have been impacted by anchors. In the Coral Triangle alone, nature and adventure-based tourism is forecast to be worth up to US $1.46-US $1.88 trillion per year by 2035. This outperforms mass tourism by 60-65% on average and brings socio-economic and environmental benefits to over 105 million people.
But it is known that coral reefs have been negatively affected by intensive recreational diving pressure. Anchoring is one practice where dive operators have the power and influence to prevent severe long-term impacts. Although anchoring has been a regular part of the scuba diving and snorkelling industry, we need to act now to ensure that anchoring practices are not harming the very environment tourists come to enjoy.
This guide gives an overview of different alternatives to anchoring. The most suitable solution for your situation will vary on the location, context and infrastructure of the site so, while there is no “one size fits all” solution, there are a diverse range of options for you to choose from. We understand that, in some instances, anchoring can be the only option. So, this document also includes guidelines on how to drop anchor in a way that minimises any negative environmental impact (for example, through coral / marine life contact or dragging).