Deep-water vessels are essential to the nation’s trade links; more than 11,000 vessels visit Australian ports annually, supporting an industry worth $200 billion every year. This project aims to consider how these ships, which can have anchor chains up to a 100 metres in length, impact upon the ocean floor at popular ports.
Dragging the Chain
This project examines the effect of deep-water anchors on the seabed of Australia’s east coast. The project is mapping the sea floor along the strip where the deep-water ships anchor at Port Kembla, approximately three nautical miles off shore, to investigate the impact on the environment and marine life. By using innovative technologies, including swath mapping, underwater video and 3D imagery, the researchers have navigated the challenging underwater environment with the findings to then be disseminated to coastal zone managers.
“We’re bringing together government, both state and federal, and environmental agencies to examine the practices of the deep-water vessels,” Ms Broad said.
“We will look at how many ships are anchored offshore and how much damage is being done. A lot of marine life passes through this area.
“We will test the biodiversity in the areas that have been impacted versus the non-impacted area. The aim is to ensure the sustainable use and development of this coastal zone.”
Ms Broad said the project will have implications for coastal zones around the world, in both tropical and temperate climates, and would allow the University of Wollongong to position itself as a world leader in sustaining marine environments.
Dragging the Chain
- Broad, M. J. Rees, A. R. Davis (2020) Anchor and chain scour as disturbance agents in benthic environments: trends in the literature and charting a course to more sustainable boating and shipping, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Vol 161 Part A
- Abstract from International Meeting on Marine Research - IMMR2018, Anchor scour associated with international shipping near ports: assessing impacts on seafloor biota, published in Frontiers in Marine Science, July 2018
- Steele, C, A Broad, T Ingleton and AR Davis (2017) Anchors Aweigh? The visible and invisible effects of anchored ocean-going vessels. Australasian Ports and Coasts July 2017 Conference Proceedings 6pp.
- Schofield, C.H. (2016) ‘Ever More Lines in the Sea: Advances in the Spatial Governance of Marine Space’, pp.387-418 in: Kraska, J and Esposito, C. (eds), Ocean Law and Policy: Twenty Years of Development under the UNCLOS Regime, (Leiden/Boston: Martinus Nijhoff).
- Curb Anchor Scour for Green Shipping, Nature, Correspondence, Vol 533, May 5, 2016, p 36 in response to Pollution: Three Steps to a Green Shipping Industry, Nature, Vol 530, February 17, 2016, pp 275-277
- Davis AR, A Broad, W Gullett, J Reveley, C Steele, & C Schofield (2016) Anchors away? The impacts of anchor scour by ocean-going vessels and potential response options, Marine Policy 71:1-7
- This team hosted a highly successful stakeholder workshop in 2014, attended by 35 people representing 22 organisations. They have also presented at five conferences.
- The workshop and Marine Policy paper above have been referenced in the 2016 Federal 'Marine environment: Australia State of the Environment Report'
In the media
- Vital marine environments at risk from ship anchors amid growing global trade, UOW Media Centre, October 13, 2020
- Impact of bulk carrier anchors on the seabed is a knowledge gap, expert says, Illawarra Mercury, October 14, 2020
- Allison Broad named as Max Day Award recipient for study on impact of anchor scour on seafloor – UOW Media, December 16, 2019
- Partnership to protect marine life near ports, UOW Universe, June 17, 2018
- Nick Rheinberger Interview with Allison Broad about Dragging the Chain - ABC Illawarra Radio, January 17, 2018
- Underwater volcanic craters and reefs found off Wollongong coast - Illawarra Mercury, April 11, 2018
- Underwater volcanic craters and rich rocky reefs found off NSW coast - Sydney Morning Herald, April 11, 2018
- Postcard from Wellington, New Zealand: A meet and greet with the neighbours - Global Challenges Blog, August 11, 2016
- Dragging the chain – does anchoring by large ships impact our marine life? - Fishthinkers Blog, September 24, 2015
- First-of-its-kind study investigates environmental damage caused by deep sea anchors - UOW Media, September 8, 2015
- Study to investigate impact of large shipping anchors on Australia's marine ecosystems - ABC, September 8, 2015
- Marine biologist Andy Davis wants to know if large shipping anchors and chains are damaging Australia's marine ecosystems- ABC Rural, September 8, 2015
- UOW study weighs up the cost of sea anchor damage - Illawarra Mercury, September 11, 2015
- UOW study weighs up the cost of sea anchor damage - The Daily Advertiser Mercury, September 11, 2015
- Big ships, big anchors, and Australia's marine ecosystems - Radio Adelaide, October 4, 2015
- Anchors in the sea - 2Ser 107.3, September 15, 2015
- Australia, the island nation: our dependence on shipping - Global Challenges Blog, December 8, 2014
Dragging the Chain brings together researchers from environmental, law, marine research and business backgrounds.
- Professor Andy Davis is the former Director of the Institute for Conservation Biology and Environmental Management and is a marine ecologist in UOW’s Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health.
- Allison Broad is an Early Career Researcher in Marine Science in the School of Earth, Atmosphere and Life Sciences at UOW
- Matt Rees has completed his doctoral degree in the School of Earth, Atmosphere and Life Sciences at UOW and a post-doc at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Western Australia. He is currently a fisheries scientist at the NSW Department of Primary Industries
- Professor Warwick Gullett is the Dean of Law at UOW and the former Deputy Director of ANCORS
- Associate Professor James Reveley is a management scholar in UOW’s Faculty of Business and Law
- Professor Clive Schofield is a political geographer and international legal scholar whose research interests relate to international boundaries and particularly maritime boundary delimitation and marine jurisdictional issues.
This project is working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals: