Healthy seagrass beds embody living hope for the future. If we want to create a sustainable future we need to prioritise seagrass restoration.
The Ocean Conservation Trust are on a mission to restore and preserve seagrass beds in the Plymouth Sound National Marine Park.
Our project is local to Plymouth, yet the benefits span globally. Seagrass is a powerful plant that takes in carbon dioxide from the ocean and stores it within its roots and leaves. By encouraging the growth of seagrass we are helping to mitigate climate change and reduce Ocean acidification. Seagrass also keeps us breathing by releasing oxygen – 10 litres per 1m2 everyday to be exact!
What are we doing to help?
Our cultivation project is supported by EU LIFE ReMEDIES and is one of a kind! Our holistic approach protects seagrass from all angles by re-establishing four hectares of seagrass beneath the waves of the Plymouth Sound. We work as a charity to reframe the way people interact with seagrass, helping to support people to understand how they can protect their local seagrass beds. This is achieved by implementing environmentally friendly mooring and offering advice to boat users, paddlers and day trippers on how to best avoid damaging their local beds.
Because seagrass isn’t always visible, not everyone knows that dropping an anchor on the sea floor can cause damage to seagrass that has taken decades to grow. Our role is to restore AND change people’s behaviour to actively protect seagrass.
Our seagrass restoration work is currently in the ‘cultivation’ stage which involves growing seagrass plants from seed in the National Marine Aquarium lab before planting them in Plymouth Sound.
The cultivation began when OCT divers and volunteers collected 700,000 seagrass seeds from Plymouth Sound in August 2020. Seed harvesting was carried out in a sustainable way by only taking seed from one part of the plant, leaving the healthy roots and leaves in place to continue producing and dispersing seed in the future.
Of these seeds, 60,000 will go to the lab and the remaining seeds will be planted directly back into the ocean to help bolster the seagrass cover in specific areas. We are planning to plant the seed and seagrass seedlings back into the wild in early 2021. An occasion we are all looking forward to.
Throughout our seagrass growing and planting story, we are keeping everyone updated on our progress both online and via our seagrass lab exhibit at the National Marine Aquarium. We aim to ensure everyone understands the importance of this project both now and in decades to come.
Alongside re-establishing beds, the Ocean Conservation Trust are also implementing Stirling Advanced Mooring Systems around the National Marine Park to protect the delicate seabed. Traditional swing mooring have chains that can drag along the seabed damaging delicate seagrass habitats. Whereas advanced mooring systems are designed to reduce these impacts while making sure boat users have easy-to-use moorings in beautiful coastal locations.
Our innovative efforts to protect seagrass beds are fuelled by our aim to protect seagrass for future generations and live on a planet where plants that combat climate change are given the respect and care they need.
In the run up to our planting season we are looking for new faces to join our mission and support us by donating to our charity and the seagrass projects we are undertaking.