Buoy Recovery, Maintenance and Reducing Vandalism

Buoy recovery and Retrieval AdviceIridium Driter recovered by Meteo France. Courtesy of H Viola

Buoy retrieval should only be undertaken by the owner of the buoy or under instruction from the owner. In general, drifting buoys are not recovered, as they are expendable platforms. The drogue could be potentially dangerous and if a buoy has been in the water for a long time it may have a lot of shell life on the casing, which could cause injury.

When buoy operators choose to retrieve a buoy they follow very clear processes. Buoy recovery techniques documented by South African Weather Service and Meteorological Service of New Zealand.


Advice to fishermen and mariners

Both drifting and moored buoys provide valuable information to many communities, including fishermen and mariners.

  • Do not pick up drifting buoys. Buoy operators generally do not recover the drifting buoys once deployed. They would continue to transmit their position along with erroneous meteorological and oceanographic data from the deck of the ship and could be dangerous.
  • Do watch out for the moored buoys at sea; they should be visible on radar and can be avoided. Always keep your fishing operations clare of the buoys in order to avoid tangling a net with the buoy.
  • DON'T moor to, damage, or destroy any part of the buoys.
  • Do, please, educate your fellow community about the use of data buoys for weather prediction.
  • The buoys may attract fish: although it may be tempting, DON'T deploy gear around or near to the buoys. If your gear tangles with the buoy, DON'T damage or cut the buoy to retrieve your gear.


Countering Vandalism to Data Buoys

see the Data Uses section for details on how buoys are used to improve forecasting and therefore safety at sea.

See also:

In 2007, Pacific Marine Environment Laboratory decided to change its moored array design in an attempt to decrease the amount of data lost to vandalism.

  • To address the problem of theft of instrumentation, standard hardware on surface moorings are replaced by hardware that requires special tools.
  • They deploy more of subsurface moorings relative to surface moorings e.g. the Prototype Acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) subsurface moorings, enhanced for upper water column measurement of temperature and salinity.
  • In some areas the meteorological sensors on surface moorings will be removed or modified the buoys to discourage vandals from boarding or attaching a line to the buoy.

In 2017, WMO Executive Counsel and IOC Assembly adopted the Outreach Strategy to Reduce Damage to Ocean Data Buoys From Vandalism.