A new study was launched to determine the impact of boat moorings on the health of waterways in Sydney Harbour, Australia.
The harbor is home to about 17,000 recreational boat users, amounting to 8 percent of registered vessels across the state of New South Wales.
There are 4,850 private moorings in the harbor and demand has increased at a rate of about 3 percent a year.
"It would be great to be able to open up some of the waterways that are currently cluttered with moorings," Howard Glenn, general manager of maritime and transport for the state, told ABC News, Australia.
The increase has led to parts of the harbor and bay being taken up as a storage facility instead of a recreational waterway, Glenn said. The new South Wales government is looking at how to improve boat storage without hurting the environment.
Researchers from the University of New South Wales and the Sydney Institute of Marine Science have begun intensive surveys of the sea floor. The project is expected to last three years.
UNSW research associate Luke Hedge said there was "a lot going on" in Sydney Harbour, particularly around the boating infrastructure, marinas and moorings.
"We have big chains going up holding 40-foot yachts, we have hundreds of moorings in a one-kilometer-square area," Hedge said.
The research divers have seen evidence that the mooring structures can affect the sediment. They are taking comprehensive samples of the sea floor to gauge the extent of the damage.
Hedge said the data could help the government implement the best possible management plans for the boating community.
"All this data we've never had before. So it's really great for the transport department to invest to get that data so they can best manage our vibrant boating community."