Buoy moorings

Maritime Safety Queensland is responsible for the management and regulation of buoy moorings in Queensland waters, except for Gold Coast waters.

The Gold Coast Waterways Authority is responsible for buoy moorings in Gold Coast waterways. For further information visit the Gold Coast Waterways Authority website or contact the office at (07) 5539 7350 or mail@gcwa.qld.gov.au.

Buoy moorings are an accepted means of securing ships, providing an alternative to methods like mooring and anchoring. A buoy mooring is on or in the seabed with ropes, cables or chains connecting it to a float or buoy on the surface to mark the location of the ship.

Increasing demand has led to a number of areas having reached their capacity for buoy moorings. As a result Maritime Safety Queensland gives preference to buoy mooring applications where:

  • the nominated ship(s) has fewer alternative methods of storage 
  • the nominated ship(s) is non-trailerable and ordinarily not stored on the land
  • a business has demonstrated a legitimate commercial need to utilise the buoy mooring.

Note: trailerable vessels, such as tinnies, tenders and vessels under 4.8m, are not eligible for a buoy mooring

Buoy mooring category areas

The administration of buoy moorings is determined by an area-based classification system where areas of Queensland waters, except for the Gold Coast, are deemed to be either a Category 1, 2 or 3.

  • Category 1 buoy mooring areas are managed and controlled by third parties, such as mooring managers, through agreements with Maritime Safety Queensland. All fees charged and conditions for the use of the moorings are set by the mooring manager.
  • Category 2 buoy mooring areas are considered by Maritime Safety Queensland to be a higher risk to marine safety and the control of navigation is a significant, ongoing concern, due to environmental elements or navigational issues.
  • Category 3 buoy mooring areas are all other areas in the state, unless otherwise upgraded to a higher category by Maritime Safety Queensland.

Buoy mooring types

Maritime Safety Queensland issues 2 types of buoy mooring authorities for Category 2 and 3 buoy mooring areas.

  • Restricted buoy mooring authorities are generally issued for recreational use by 1 nominated and approved ship. Only the approved ship that is registered/owned by the authority holder is permitted to moor at the approved buoy mooring. The colour of the mooring buoy must be yellow.
  • Unrestricted buoy mooring authorities are issued to support maritime-related business activities of established marine service providers and legitimate maritime-related businesses. Buoy moorings must be used solely to support the businesses activities. More than 1 ship may use the approved buoy mooring. The colour of the mooring buoy must be fluorescent or bright pink. If this is unavailable, orange can be used as a substitute.

Obtaining a buoy mooring authority

All applications for a buoy mooring authority must be made through a Maritime Safety Queensland regional office. Maritime Safety Queensland has a whole-of-state framework for approving buoy moorings. A regional harbour master may create some area-specific conditions. Contact the relevant Maritime Safety Queensland regional office for further information.

The applicant must:

  • provide satisfactory written evidence to support the application for a buoy mooring authority
  • make sure the design criteria for the mooring device and the method of deploying it is suitable for the size and the type of nominated ship and will not impede or adversely affect other moorings
  • make sure the mooring device is maintained in a safe and serviceable condition at all times.

Note: For Category 2 buoy mooring areas a commercial mooring contractor must install and maintain the mooring device.

Applying for a buoy mooring

  1. Complete the buoy mooring authority application form, available from your local Maritime Safety Queensland regional office.
  2. Provide the following supporting documentation:
    Category 2 and 3 areas:
    • evidence of identity and address
    • evidence of Queensland ship registration ownership (restricted only)
    • ship information—including type, draft and size
    • proposed location of the buoy mooring
    • port authority, port operator and other entity clearances
    • Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultural heritage clearances (if relevant).
    Category 2 area only:
    • evidence of an evacuation plan in case the ship needs to evacuate the area quickly.
  3. Pay the assessment fee.
  4. The application will then be reviewed and applicants will be told if the application was approved and the conditions of use.
  5. If approved, the 12 month occupancy fee will also need to be paid before the authority is issued.

Renewing a buoy mooring authority

Buoy mooring authorities are subject to annual renewals and fees on an annual basis. Maritime Safety Queensland may refuse renewals under certain circumstances. Maritime Safety Queensland will issue Authority holders an invoice that will include details for payment, including an online payment option.

Fact sheets

Last updated
30 January 2023