03 April 2013

Threats to seagrasses and what you can do

Seagrasses all around the world face many threats. These are highlighted in the latest magazine of Seagrass-Watch with beautiful photos and great information.
Dredging, agricultural runoff, trawling, ports and shipping, boating, coastal development, invasive species, urban and industrial runoff. On the less gloomy side, there is also lots of information on mitigating the impacts of these threats as well as efforts in seagrass restoration.

The opening article outlines the threats to seagrasses globally. And features this great photo by Len McKenzie of TeamSeagrass at work on Pulau Semakau!
With this caption to the photo: "Within one of the world's busiest ports and adjacent to Singapore's only landfill, Pulau Semakau has vast seagrass meadows within abundant Enhalus acoroides (on the horizon is the petrochemical facilities on Pulau Bukom - the largest Shell refinery globally). Through effective management and enforcement by the Singapore Government in conjunction with the public, rich and productive seagrass habitats remain in proximity to the city. TeamSeagrass monitors this and other key seagrass meadows in Singapore."

Among the threats to seagrasses is dredging. This article explores how some of the impacts can be prevented.
Even if dredging doesn't directly dig up seagrasses, by clouding up the water, dredging can affect creatures living in the area.
In the article on boating and seagrasses, we learn more about the impact of anchors and large structures installed on seagrass meadows.
Some encouraging studies include this experiment placing stakes on boat scars in seagrass meadows. As seabirds and shorebirds rest on these stakes they poop. A rich natural fertiliser that encourages regrowth on the scars! More about this study.
Illustrated by heart-breakingly beautiful photos of seagrasses around the world, we learn more about threats to these delicate ecosystems.
Download the latest Seagrass-Watch magazine to read more.

In Singapore, our seagrasses face similar threats.
Dredging next to Cyrene in Jul 2011.
Runoff from the land during heavy rain near seagrass meadows
on Labrador, Sentosa on Dec 2012
Removing driftnet laid on seagrasses at Labrador, Nov 2012

What can we do about these threats?

The keynote article ends with these thoughts:
We have constructed approached to help us identify those threats to seagrass of most significance, but now we need to develop processes to identify solutions.

These processes and solutions will vary but at the fundamental level will require a greater awareness of the importance of seagrass resources and consequences of their loss.

An effective way forward would involve improving community involvement in conservation efforts; developing sustained, long term incentives to protect seagrasses; providing basic information on seagrass ecosystems to inform (science-based) decision-making; and developing stronger policy and regulations for the protection and conservation of seagrass ecosystems (as well as the institutional capacity to implement them).

To protect valuable seagrass meadows, we must work together.

In Singapore, you CAN make a difference by joining TeamSeagrass! More about the Team and how to join.

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