NOAA 2003-R402
Contact: Cheva Hecht
NOAA News Releases 2003
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The Department of Commerce has awarded its Bronze Medal to NOAA National Ocean Service biologist John Halas of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary for developing a mooring, or fastening, device designed to protect countless acres of coral reef from anchor damage. His invention is being used throughout the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and marine protected areas worldwide. The Bronze Medal is the highest honorary award given by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“Thanks to Halas’ ingenuity what may now seem like a simple invention has helped revolutionize coral reef management worldwide and significantly reduced a major source of damage to the heavily visited reefs of the Florida Keys,” said Billy Causey, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary superintendent.

Consisting of concrete block and heavy chain, previous mooring devices threatened to damage the very sea floor they were designed to protect. The Halas Mooring Buoy System consists of a stainless steel eyebolt cemented securely into a hold drilled into the seafloor. A floating line shackled to the eyebolt extends through a plastic mooring buoy. Boaters use a pick-up line attached to the buoy to secure their boats.

Halas first implemented the system as an experiment in the old Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary as a sanctuary employee in 1981. That area is now part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, where more than 420 mooring buoys protect the coral reefs, and nearly 240 additional buoys mark areas set aside for special protection. Halas designed the mooring system in consultation with Harold Hudson, a sanctuary assessment and restoration expert.

Halas has visited more than 35 countries to train personnel and assist in installation of the mooring buoy system in the Caribbean, Egypt’s Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, the broader Pacific region and China.

NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration, and educational programs. Today, 13 national marine sanctuaries encompass more than 18,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources. In addition, the NMSP is conducting a sanctuary designation process to incorporate the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve into the national sanctuary system.

NOAA National Ocean Service (NOAA Ocean Service) manages the National Marine Sanctuary Program and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. NOAA Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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