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Saving the Worlds Seagrass Meadows Isn’t Just a Pipefish Dream
Saving seagrass isn’t just a pipefish dream. That’s the claim of a new Practitioners perspective article written by researchers from Swansea University and Cardiff University who help run the marine conservation charity Project Seagrass (www.projectseagrass.org) together with two of their graduate students. Seagrass meadows are a global resource providing a myriad of ecosystem services including significant support for global fisheries. The ecological value of seagrass meadows is irrefutable, yet loss continues at an accelerating rate. Their article explains that action is urgently required to minimise damage to seagrass and to confer resilience in the face of rapid and global environmental change. Management strategies are required that address specific threats and that can be delivered across scales.
The researchers explain the options available that can be used to assist environmental managers and practitioners in taking practical actions to help stem the loss of seagrass meadows. Strategies exist that can be used towards a reversal of their decline. Poor water quality is the biggest global concern facing seagrass, and action at a catchment level is a means of dealing with this. They provide information about how changing water quality is not a simple task, but also illustrate how case studies show that improvement can be enhanced through the cumulative result of simple actions across industries, catchments, jurisdictions and communities. Reducing the impact of boats, stopping the spread of invasive species, developing science-industry partnerships, and promoting sustainable exploitation of seagrass associated species are also explained as key ways of enhancing the long-term resilience of seagrass meadows. Seagrass conservation also requires more long-term investment backed up by improved policy and legislation to support local and regional management of these systems as part of connected seascape. Critically improved education and widespread awareness raising is needed so that the hundreds of millions of people living in close vicinity to seagrass meadows understand their importance and sensitivity. They conclude their article by discussing how overlapping strategies may be required to secure a future for seagrass. Community empowerment, funding injection and the use of evidence based science, can support the protection of seagrass meadows for ecosystem service provision now and in the future.
source : Swansea University