Recommendations for LPA Mooring Systems and Designs

When submitting a LPA application one of the details that can make or break your approval is your mooring system. Understanding and installing moorings that work for the load that aquaculture gear generates is crucial and creating an accurate and readable mooring system design in your application is key for your approval.


Capt. Eric Oransky


Casco Marine, LLC


LPA Mooring Systems

An important part of your LPA application and your farm planning is figuring out what mooring system is robust enough to maintain the constant tension of a longline while handling the dynamic forces of storms, currents, and wind, and that it’s individual components are capable of standing up to the marine environment. There are so many different types of moorings and anchors to choose from and you need to figure out the right system for your farm. So take the time to think about all of your options and conditions to figure out what is the right choice for you. If you aren’t sure which direction to go reach out to a marine contractor for a consultation.

The major considerations when choosing a mooring system are:

  • Bottom type (hard vs. soft, mud, sand, shell, rocky, ledge)
  • Depth and Tidal Range (how much rope/chain and scope is required, installation by diver or boat)
  • Exposure (current, waves, wind, storm-surge, spring tides)
  • Loading (tensioned longline / spreader-bar, orientation of gear to whether, tides and currents)
  • Cost (of the mooring, installation/removal/maintenance/possible failure) It is worth considering the potential cost should your mooring system fail and need to be replaced with a more robust system, the changes to DMR and ACOE permitting required to switch mooring type and the possible loss of gear and organisms. Saving money up front with a cheaper mooring system could end up costing you more in the end.

Below are Capt. Eric Oransky's of Casco Marine, LLC recommendations for LPA mooring systems:

Common Mooring System Options

Concrete and Granite Blocks

Concrete and Granite Blocks will work well especially when you have hard/rocky bottom when other types of moorings and anchors are not able to “bite” or dig into the bottom. Concrete blocks are not overly expensive but are heavy and difficult to move around without the right equipment. Granite is more expensive but has a longer service life. Both will require a marine contractor or additional equipment to install or remove them. They can drag if overloaded or “creep” from the constant directional loading of a tensioned longline, but they will move slowly because of their mass.

Mushroom Anchors

Mushroom Anchors are small and mid-weight, they have a lower price point for holding-power when compared to blocks and can be set/moved by yourself from a moderately sized boat, but they need to be properly sized (weighted), dug-in or “set” properly to hold. They work especially well in soft and mud bottom, but are just a weight on hard or rock bottom if they cannot be dug-in properly. If the direction of pull from your surface gear changes too much the anchor can “trip” and disengage from the bottom but will likely catch again when loaded in a new direction.

Danforth or Plough Anchors

Danforth or Plough Anchors are relatively light, inexpensive and easy to install but will have to be large enough to hold all of your gear in a winter storm. They work well in sand, shell and mud bottom, but not as well on really hard or rocky bottom if they cannot be dug-in, and in soft mud can drag when there is a large loading from a storm-surge, waves, wind, etc. Like mushrooms they can be “tripped” if the direction of pull changes causing your site to move off-station, and may not catch again if fouled.

Helical Moorings

Helical Moorings are a large helical plate on a shaft, like a big screw. They come in various diameters and lengths. They are relatively inexpensive with regard to holding power, but must installed by a SCUBA diver or specialized drilling equipment which can increase the total cost of installation if you hire a marine contractor to install them. The “round-shaft” helix can be installed manually in soft bottom and the larger “square-shaft” helix require a specialized hydraulic unit and experienced diver. They perform exceptionally well in soft, sand, shell and mud bottom, but cannot be installed in ledge or very hard/rocky bottom. They will not trip, or drag if sized and installed properly making them ideal for a constantly tensioned longline at the surface. They can also be used to “back-up” a mooring block to keep them from dragging/creeping. Removal is done by unscrewing them from the bottom.

Sample LPA Mooring System Designs

When applying for your LPA, you do need to include a mooring system design in your application. If the drawings accompanying the application are not easy to read and incomplete (from an architectural and engineering standpoint) it can be a reason your application is considered incomplete. Below are sample mooring designs that were created by Capt. Eric Oransky's of Casco Marine, LLC and can be found on the Department of Marine Resources Limited Purpose Aquaculture (LPA) License Application page under sample mooring designs. Additionally, moorings are one of the few things you are legally allowed to change on a LPA license (see 2.90 (2)(5)(E)). So, if the system you originally proposed isn’t working, you shouldn't have concerns about reaching out to DMR to change what is on your license. It's easy and quick.

Sample Mooring Design for Oyster Cages on a Single Longline

Sample Mooring Design for Oyster Cages on a Spreader Bar

Sample Mooring Design for a Kelp Longline