New project launched to help protect seagrass across England

Date posted: 30 January 2020

Why are such habitats so important, and why must we enable their growth as much as possible? A recent expert report concluded that re-wildling the ocean, and providing the right conditions for re-growth of essential habitats along with offshore renewable energy development can provide 21% of the world’s needs to counter the worst effects of climate change. Seagrass regeneration the world over is a large part of this.

Seagrass Meadow
© Paul Naylor / marinephoto.co.uk

MCS has been working with Princess Yachts and The Ocean Conservation Trust to install Advanced Mooring Systems into seagrass beds in Plymouth since 2018. We have already installed 5 into Cawsand Bay. This will eventually rise to 15. These secure and strong moorings have already enabled re-growth of seagrass at the base of the mooring chains, making beds more dense and blades longer. This will enable more habitat for fish and wildlife, and when scaled up, provides a buffer to storm damage, as longer blades counter the ocean’s swell. As ocean sea level rise could well be up to 5mm a year, we need our carbon sinks to be healthy to counter this effect.

Working with partners, we are now part of a much bigger project along England’s south coast called ReMEDIES. This project is EU-funded (LIFE) and led on by Natural England, supported by The Royal Yachting Association, Ocean Conservation Trust, Plymouth City Council and the MCS. Together we shall aim to significantly increase the numbers of Advanced Mooring Systems replacing traditional moorings (that scrape seagrass blades). We will also aim to protect threatened maerl habitats where they occur (Falmouth and Scilly Isles) from such damage. We will monitor the impact of such moorings with Seasearch, and also – where possible – record the success of re-seeding of seagrass beds by the Ocean Conservation Trust.

A large part of the work is getting support for our project objectives from boat owners. This shouldn’t be too difficult as climate is becoming more part of the everyday concern of people at the coast, particularly those faced with sea level rise. The RYA and ourselves through our Sea Champions and educational work, have a message that we’re not about ‘banning’ boating, but using new, advanced techniques of mooring to enable recovery of our most efficient carbon sink in our coastal seas.

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