What are Buoy Moorings?

Buoy moorings are used to secure vessels and provide an alternative to anchoring and other methods of storage. A buoy mooring is attached to the seabed, through a system of ropes, cables or chains, with a float or buoy on the surface to mark the location of the vessel.

A key part of the Gold Coast Waterways Authority’s (GCWA’s) role is to responsibly manage our buoy mooring areas to accommodate the Gold Coast’s rapidly increasing population and growth in vessel registrations, while embracing new technology to reduce the impact of buoy moorings on the marine environment and to provide safer moorings that are less prone to dragging in bad weather.

You’ll need a buoy mooring authority to establish a buoy mooring for use by a recreational or commercial vessel. We may grant the authorities for vessels that are of a size that generally can’t be transported by trailer. We carefully consider all mooring areas with special attention to depth, the nature of the seabed, maximum vessel size, proximity to navigation channels, private pontoons and jetties (as well as other moorings) and locations within the Moreton Bay Marine Park (where additional requirements apply).

All buoy mooring authorities issued by GCWA include conditions for the use of the buoy mooring. The holder of the buoy mooring authority must ensure full compliance with all conditions of the authority. A failure to comply with one or more conditions is grounds to cancel the authority.


Our Buoy Mooring Management Strategy is a guiding framework for responsibly managing buoy moorings in Gold Coast waterways into the future. This strategy was approved by the GCWA Board in August 2017. It’s the next stage in a long-term consultation process that examines the way buoy moorings are established, used and managed on the Gold Coast.

The Buoy Mooring Management Strategy will guide GCWA’s approach to policy, information provision, operations and consultation. Subscribe to our e-newsletter to keep up to date on the Strategy’s implementation.

Click here to read the latest on the Buoy Mooring Strategy and find out more about Environmentally Friendly Moorings.

Buoy Mooring Areas

There are 3 types of buoy mooring areas:

  • Category 1 areas that are managed and controlled by mooring managers through agreements with GCWA. The Southern Broadwater mooring area near Sundale Bridge is a defined Category 1 area.
  • Category 2 areas that are considered higher-risk for marine safety, environmental or navigational reasons. There are currently no defined Category 2 areas in Gold Coast waterways.
  • Category 3 areas that are all other mooring areas in Gold Coast waterways.

What is an Environmentally Friendly Mooring – EFM?

The Marine Parks (Moreton Bay) Zoning Plan 2008 provides for environmentally friendly mooring activity through use of environmentally friendly moorings (EFMs). An EFM is a mooring that complies fully with all of the following:

  • less than 1m² of the substrate is disturbed by any device used for the mooring activity that is attached to, or sits on, the substrate
  • the activity does not involve dredging
  • for a mooring activity that is constructing a mooring, the design and placement of the mooring in the area ensures that a vessel using the mooring does not touch the substrate
  • any cables, chains, ropes or other things attached to a device mentioned in the first dot point above do not touch the substrate.

For consistent administration and regulation of buoy moorings in Gold Coast waters, GCWA defines an EFM as one that meets all of the above requirements.

How do I know if my EFM is ‘fit for purpose’?

Careful consideration must be given to the vessel that will use the mooring to ensure the choice of EFM is capable of holding the vessel fast and secure in all conditions (including severe weather), as well as satisfying the requirements for an EFM mentioned above.  

A Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ) is an engineer who has been registered in Queensland with recognised engineering qualifications and competence. A statement by a RPEQ certifying that the EFM is “Fit for Purpose” must be provided to GCWA with every new application; any time the vessel changes; or where the EFM device is replaced or changed from the original technical specifications (this does not include a direct replacement of “like-for-like” components as part of the EFM’s annual maintenance). 

Buoy Mooring Maps

There are 13 buoy mooring areas across Gold Coast waters:

  • 6 buoy mooring areas within the Moreton Bay Marine Park
  • 7 buoy mooring areas outside of the marine park.

Moreton Bay Marine Park
All new buoy moorings established within the Moreton Bay Marine Park must be EFMs, consistent with the requirements of marine parks legislation.

Please remember the establishment of buoy moorings within the Moreton Bay Marine Park is strictly monitored and controlled. Buoy moorings must only be established within designated mooring areas (DMAs) approved by the Department of Environment and Science.

The buoy mooring areas within the Moreton Bay Marine Park are:

Please contact GCWA if you are considering a buoy mooring within the Moreton Bay Marine Park.

Outside of the Marine Park
The buoy mooring areas outside of the Moreton Bay Marine Park are:

Following a decision of the GCWA Board, all new buoy moorings in Gold Coast waters outside of the Moreton Bay Marine Park must now be EFMs. For this, GCWA will condition all new buoy mooring authorities for the establishment of an EFM. A failure to comply with this condition will be a ground for cancellation of the authority.

Please note the above maps are in the process of being updated.

Buoy Moorings From Mid-2024

The GCWA Board also decided that from mid-2024 every buoy mooring in Gold Coast waters, both within and outside of the Moreton Bay Marine Park, will transition to an EFM. This means that all buoy moorings in Gold Coast waters will eventually be EFMs to enhance safety and help protect environmental values. GCWA will work with existing buoy mooring holders to assist with this transition.

Buoy Mooring Types

There are 2 types of buoy mooring authorities for Category 2 & 3 buoy mooring areas:

  • Restricted use buoy moorings that are limited to one vessel that is greater than 6 metres in length and registered or owned by the authority holder (called the stated ship). This type of buoy mooring is for use by one particular vessel only.
  • Unrestricted use buoy moorings that are only available for genuine commercial use; for example, government agencies, marine industry, commercial fleet operations, or for those who own more than one commercial vessel. Only one vessel may use the buoy mooring at any time.

Buoy Mooring Uses

The holder of a buoy mooring authority must not carry on a business activity from the approved buoy mooring. The buoy mooring must only be used for the storage of the vessel.

How do I get a buoy mooring?

For all buoy mooring enquiries, please contact the Gold Coast Waterways Authority on 07 5539 7350.

I’ve seen a buoy mooring advertised for rent, is this allowed?

Restricted use buoy moorings can only be used by the authority holder for the particular vessel stated in the authority (the stated ship). On-the-spot fines can be issued by shipping inspectors for unlawful use of a buoy mooring.

Ongoing management and renewal of buoy mooring authorities

If you’re the holder of a buoy mooring authority issued by GCWA, you will have seen the words “First and Final” on the most recent renewal reminder that we’ve sent you. With the implementation of our Buoy Mooring Management Strategy, we’re aiming to send all renewal reminders at least 4 weeks before the expiry date of the buoy mooring authority.

IMPORTANT: It is the authority holder’s personal responsibility to make an application for renewal. GCWA will only send one courtesy reminder for the renewal of the buoy mooring authority.

To renew your buoy mooring authority, you must do ALL of the following:

  1. Inspect the buoy mooring, to ensure all equipment of the buoy mooring is in good condition and fit for purpose (i.e. to hold your vessel fast and secure) for the term of the authority (that is, up to its date of expiry)—
    • If you have a traditional buoy mooring, you must either engage the services of a competent person who can produce a Mooring Inspection Report about the condition of the buoy mooring; or if you can inspect the buoy mooring yourself, you must properly declare before a Justice of the Peace or a Commissioner for Declarations the Mooring Inspection Report Statutory Declaration that covers all the information about the condition of the buoy mooring that we require to make a decision about your renewal.
    • If you have an Environmentally Friendly Mooring (EFM), you must engage the services of the manufacturer, or a competent person approved by the manufacturer, to provide a Mooring Inspection Report about the condition of the EFM.
  1. Take a clear, current photo of the stated ship using the buoy mooring.

  2. Complete and sign the application for renewal that we send to you, making any necessary changes to your contact details, if necessary.
  3. Pay the required fee.
  4. Send the Mooring Inspection Report, the signed application for renewal, the photo of the stated ship, together with a cheque for the fee ALL IN A SINGLE ENVELOPE; or come into our office counter with all of the required material and make payment of the fee by cash, credit card or cheque in person. If you cannot attend in person, please phone us to discuss arrangements for completing the renewal process.

Further, if any amendments are needed to the authority, GCWA will require a request in writing setting out in full all details of the change, together with reasons for the change.

If you submit only part of the required material, or the application is incomplete in any way (for example, missing any one of the supporting documents, or your statutory declaration is not complete, signed and properly witnessed), we will return your documents to you. If this happens, you may miss the expiry date of the buoy mooring authority and thereby miss the opportunity to renew the authority.

Do not miss your renewal

You must apply to renew your buoy mooring authority before its expiry date.

Once the expiry date has passed, you cannot lawfully make an application for renewal.

You are welcome to contact us if you have any questions about your renewal. However, please remember that to renew your buoy mooring authority, you must make the application for renewal as set out above, before the authority expires.

Contacting GCWA – by phone on 5539 7350 or by email at mail@gcwa.qld.gov.au

Use electronic reminders – don’t let your buoy mooring authority expire if you wish to renew it.

We strongly recommend that you put a reminder in your calendar or smart phone to make sure you arrange the inspection of the buoy mooring each year well ahead of the expiry date. Also, please make sure the inspection report covers the full term of your buoy mooring authority.

Coordinate with other buoy mooring authority holders

There may be benefit in speaking to neighbouring buoy mooring authority holders to arrange multiple mooring inspections at one time. We encourage you to please plan for the buoy mooring inspection.

Replacing your mooring block

If you need to replace the mooring block of your traditional buoy mooring (not an EFM), whether a concrete block or some other kind of device, then following from the decision of the GCWA Board, you will need to replace the block or device with an EFM. This applies to all Gold Coast waters.

Please let us know if you establish an EFM because this will help to inform our planning for the future transition to EFMs.

In the Moreton Bay Marine Park, you must not replace the block and tackle of a traditional buoy mooring with similar block and tackle. Not only would this be a contravention of conditions of the buoy mooring authority, which would be grounds to cancel the authority, but it would also be an offence against marine parks legislation, which carries severe penalties.

You can find out more details about EFMs by following this link: https://hlw.org.au/project/environmentally-friendly-moorings/

General information about the Moreton Bay Marine Park can be found at: https://www.des.qld.gov.au/contactus/

Alternatively, you can contact Department of Environment and Science by email at: info@des.qld.gov.au or phone on 13 74 68 (13 QGOV).

Transitioning to EFMs

The GCWA Board decided in 2016 that all buoy moorings in Gold Coast waters should be EFMs that are certified by an RPEQ as being “Fit for Purpose”.

All buoy mooring authority holders, along with people remaining on the Buoy Mooring Waiting List, have been sent GCWA updates advising them about the transition to EFMs from mid-2024. You can find a copy of the latest update here:

Click here to read the latest on the Buoy Mooring Strategy.

Can I sell or transfer my buoy mooring?

The short answer is “no”. The authority for a buoy mooring is an authority issued to you, much like a licence to act as master of a vessel. You cannot sell, lease or transfer the buoy mooring authority. To do so would contravene a condition of the authority, which is a ground to cancel the authority.


It’s important that you contact GCWA before purchasing a replacement vessel.

If you sell or otherwise dispose of the vessel for your buoy mooring authority, you may either:

  1. apply for an amendment to the authority, identifying a suitable replacement vessel* for that buoy mooring within 30 days of the date of disposal of the original vessel (you must provide a bill of sale or proof of vessel registration in your name as the holder of the buoy mooring authority); or
  2. you may surrender the buoy mooring authority.

If you choose to surrender the buoy mooring authority, and following an assessment process, GCWA may be able to offer the location for the buoy mooring to the next person on the waiting list for that buoy mooring area. As the holder of a buoy mooring authority, you do not “own” the location of the sea bed for the buoy mooring and the buoy mooring authority does not hold any value. The buoy mooring authority is an approval for you to do something; that is, to establish a buoy mooring.

*suitable replacement vessel means a vessel greater than 6 metres that cannot be transported by trailer which, in the view of GCWA, would be suitable to use the buoy mooring.

The buoy mooring authority holder must apply to GCWA for an amendment to the authority if he or she wishes to change the vessel using the buoy mooring. The authority holder must provide GCWA with all details of the replacement vessel, to enable a properly informed assessment of space requirements (depth and swing) for the location of the buoy mooring.

If the replacement vessel is larger than the stated ship identified in the buoy mooring authority, it’s likely you will need a new report from an RPEQ certifying that the buoy mooring is “fit for purpose”.

For all buoy mooring information, please contact the GCWA on 07 5539 7350.

Remember your anchor light

A vessel using a buoy mooring must exhibit an all-round white anchor light at night, of the prescribed intensity described by the Collision Regulations. The anchor light is a condition of all buoy mooring authorities, and like all other conditions, you must comply with this condition.

Last updated: 26 March 2020