Eelgrass bed Divedog

Seagrass planting programme gets underway

2 minute read

Erin O'Neill

21 Apr 2021

Today, work kicks off on England’s biggest ever seagrass planting programme in Plymouth Sound National Marine Park. We’re delighted to play a part in restoring this precious habitat.

Seagrass is home to protected species of seahorses that live in UK waters – they’re also breeding grounds for cuttlefish and sharks, and nurseries for cod, plaice and pollock.

Just as importantly, particularly in light of the current climate crisis, seagrass absorbs 10% of the carbon buried in ocean sediment every year, making it a brilliant weapon in the fight to halt the warming of the planet.

Spiny Seahorse in Seagrass Georgie Bull

Credit: Georgie Bull

Dr Jean Luc Solandt, our Principal Specialist in Marine Protected Areas said: “We are delighted to be a partner in this exciting project. Our role is to dive to record the health of the seabed in these sites where we’re helping with restoration.”

“We’ve also sought funding to support installation of moorings that avoid ‘chain scrape’ on the seabed in Plymouth, allowing boating and seagrass to live side by side. Our networks of volunteers and educators are informing the wider public of these solutions.”

He added: “There are many positive solutions to the environmental and climate crisis that don’t have to involve blanket bans. We’re working on it. It’s a long road, but we’ve been delighted by the initial response of local volunteer communities, both in the boating and public sector.”

Seagrass bed Georgie Bull

Credit: Georgie Bull

It’s estimated that the UK may have lost up to 92% of its seagrass. Factors including wasting disease, pollution and physical disturbance have been identified as contributing causes. 

Our Sea Champion volunteers are part of a wider group that are helping to pack and plant a total of 16,000 seagrass seed bags and 2,200 seedling bags, as part of the LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES project.

ReMEDIES is funded by the EU LIFE programme and led by Natural England in partnership with Ocean Conservation Trust (OCT), Marine Conservation Society, Royal Yachting Association and Plymouth City Council/Tamar Estuaries Consultative Forum. The four-year project aims to plant a total of eight hectares of seagrass meadows – four hectares in Plymouth Sound and four hectares in the Solent Maritime Special Area of Conservation.

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