Sustaining Coastal & Marine Zones

Dragging the Chain

The Project

Dragging the ChainThis project will examine the effect of deep-water anchors on the seabed of Australia’s east coast. 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. 

Researcher Allison Broad said the project would map 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 swath mapping, underwater video and 3D imagery, the researchers navigate the challenging underwater environment with the findings to then be disseminated to coastal zone managers.

 The innovative technologies will help the researchers to navigate the challenging underwater environment with the information 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 would 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. 

Outcomes and Publications

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.  This workshop was 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'

Dragging the ChainImpact  Workshop SummaryDownload 



The Researchers

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.

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 

Allison Broad is an Early Career Researcher in Marine Science in the School of Biological Sciences at UOW

Matt Rees is a post doctoral research fellow in the school of Biological Sciences at UOW

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. Clive is also the Leader of the Sustaining Coastal and Marine Zone Global Challenge. 

Last reviewed: 22 August, 2018