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Mooring Buoy Program

​​​Our P​rogram

With over 40,000 registered vessels and a year-round boating climate, intense pressure is placed on Broward County’s marine resources. Directly offshore are three coral reef tracts, with the outer re​​ef located less than two miles from the coastline. Because of the close proximity of the reefs to shore, damage to corals and associated benthic organisms is prevalent due to the deployment of boat anchors.

Since 1989, the Broward County Environmental Planning Community Resilience Division​ (EPCRD) has worked with local conservation groups and the dive community to establish and maintain a successful mooring buoy program. The program started with the installation of 10 moorings at Barracuda Reef, located offshore of the Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park. The success of this initial effort to protect the coral reef habitats from harmful effects of anchor damage led to the expansion of the mooring buoy system to other popular diving and fishing sites, and today Broward County oversees a system of 122 mooring buoys. 

In addition to providing properly installed and well-maintained moorings for the boating public, the EPCRD also strives to educate boaters about the correct way to use the moorings. The long-term goal of the mooring buoy program is to lessen the harmful effect of anchor damage on coral reef resources.

​​​​​​Florida Law

The Florida Reef Tract spans 358 miles, from the Dry Tortugas to the St. Lucie Inlet. To help protect our coral reefs in 2009, Florida passed the Florida’s Coral Reef Protection Act​ (CRPA) making it illegal to anchor or otherwise damage coral reefs. The CRPA also authorizes the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to pursue fines and compensations for any damage to the reefs.

Program History​

1989: Broward County assisted the Ocean Watch Foundation and local dive businesses to obtain Federal, State, and local permits to install 10 mooring buoys at Barracuda Reef.

1990: Broward County obtained permits and installed 10 additional in Barracuda Reef and 30 in Pompano Beach. 

1993: Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s (FWC) Florida Boating Improvement Program​ (FBIP) awarded a grant to expand our program and add buoys on popular diving and fishing sites like The Caves, Oakland Ridges, Hall of Fame, and Anglin’s Ledge. 

FWClogo2007 - Hi Res.jpg

1997: County installed 10 additional mooring buoys at Anglin’s Ledge.

2002: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Coastal Impact and Monitoring Program (CIAMP) awarded a grant to install additional anchors for buoys at Pompano Beach and conduct a mooring buoy effectiveness study. 


2007: National Fish & Wildlife Foundation awarded a grant to place buoys on the CIAMP anchors and print mooring buoy information brochures. 

2011 & 2013: Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) awarded a grant to purchase mooring buoy supplies.

2018: Broward County, Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division (EPCRD) completed the installation of 10 mooring buoy between Hillsboro Beach and Deerfield Beach. EPCRD was awarded a grant from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Florida Boating Improvement Program.

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Using the Buoy

Step 1: Retrieve the pick-up line with your boat hook.​                                           DSC_0131 pick up line with boat hook 2.jpg

Step 2: Pass your bow-line through the eye of the pick-up line and tie to bow cleat.​ DSC_0227Pass bow line thru eye_1.jpg        ​                                                                                                                                                             DSC_0233tie off line to cleat close up 1.jpg
Step 3: Cleat both ends of the bow-line to the bow of your boat.​                                   Proper Tie Off front view.JPG
                                                                                                                                       Proper Tie Off top view.JPG
Never tie your boat directly to the mooring buoy pick-up line as this can damage your vessel and the mooring buoy assemblage. Use a separate bow-line as shown above! 
                           No Moorning Tie2.jpg                                No Moorning Tie3.jpg

The following steps show how to use the buoys correctly. Following these steps will help make your trip to the reef safe and more enjoyable.
                      • Have your boat hook and bow-line ready.
                      • Carefully approach the buoy from downwind or current. 
                      • Inspect the buoy as you approach. Make sure the mooring is in good shape before you tie off. 
                      • Retrieve the pick-up line with your boat hook (top photo). 
                      • Pass your bow-line through the eye of the pick-up line. (2nd left photo) Put out extra scope and cleat the bow-line off securely.
                      • It is important to put out additional scope in rough weather.
                      • Never tie the mooring buoy pick-up line (bottom photos) directly to the bow or stern cleat as you may damage your boat and place too                                  much strain on the mooring.  
                      • Someone who knows how to operate the boat should always remain onboard. 
                                As the boat operator, you are responsible for the safety of your boat and passengers.
                      • To leave the buoy, untie one end of your bow-line and let it slip free of the pick-up line.
                      • Retrieve your bow-line and maneuver slowly until you are clear of the buoys and other boaters.

Additional Tips:
                      • Maintain idle speed when approaching or around the mooring buoy area.
                      • Keep an eye for swimmers, snorkelers, or divers.
                      • Sailboats should not leave sails up as it puts additional strain on the buoys.
                      • If all buoys are taken, make sure to anchor on sand, not on the coral reefs. 
                      • You can use the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Coral Reef Conservation Program map on the ESRI ArcGIS mobile App                                  to find sand to anchor. The free app uses GPS to show your vessels position and distinguishes sand and reef areas. 
​                              ESRI ArcGIS.jpgDownload the ESRI ArcGIS app and search Southeast Florida Coral Reef Locator​

The Buoy

The mooring buoy design is simple. Each mooring consists of three interlocking sections of floating line: the pick-up line, buoy through-line, and down-line which shackles to a stainless-steel "U" shape anchor cemented into the sea floor. The moorings are strong, but are only designed to be used by small to medium size boats, up to 60 feet (18 meters) in length, in relatively calm weather. 

                                       Mooring Diagram.jpg
Caution: larger vessels or using buoys in rough weather may result in damage to the vessel.​
Mooring Buoy Locations

S​​ite Name Total Buoys Location
​Separated Rocks ​4 ​26° 18.868' N
80° 03.987' W
​Hillsboro Ledges ​4 ​26° 18.253' N 
80° 04.079' W
​Opal Towers ​2 ​26° 17.574' N 
80° 04.122' W
​Pompano Drop-Off ​42 ​26° 12.661' N 
80° 05.080' W
​Hall Of Fame ​9 ​26° 11.546' N 
80° 05.074' W
​Anglin's Ledge 11​ ​26° 11.353' N
80° 05.241' W
​Oakland Ridges ​15 ​26° 09.254' N 
80° 05.341' W
​The Caves ​10 ​26° 07.600' N 
80° 05.499' W
​Barracuda Reef ​25 ​26° 04.518' N 
80° 05.765' W​

Report a Buoy Problem

Broward County mooring buoys are maintained by the Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division. For more information or to report a problem concerning the buoys, please call 954-519-1270. 

Broward County assumes no responsibility for use of the buoys.

Marine Waste Disposal Program

Broward County Solid Waste and Recycling Services offers a program to dispose of marine hazardous waste generated by private boaters. The program is free for Broward County residents and drop-off sites are conveniently located in Pompano Beach, Davie and West Park.

Among the items accepted are motor oil, engine fluids, gasoline, flares and fire extinguishers. For more information, call 954-765-4999 or visit the Broward County Solid Waste and Recycling Services Waste Disposal​ site.