Solent seagrass symposium

It was exciting to learn about the full scope of seagrass research and restoration projects underway in my home waters last night, as many of the organisations involved came together at an event in Cowes. These plants’ remarkable ability to store carbon, stabilise sediments, filter out excess nutrients and act as nursery grounds for juvenile fish make them invaluable to the future health of the Solent.
Although over 90% of the UK’s seagrass coverage is believed to have been lost during the last century, it was reassuring to hear that some of the Isle of Wight’s meadows are currently in good health. Restoration trials and planting initiatives to combat previous losses are taking place on the island’s northern shores and on the mainland near the mouth of the Beaulieu River and at Langstone Harbour.
A range of different planting methods are being used to ascertain the most effective technique, with options including placing seeds in hessian bags or large seagrass pillows, putting seeds in a silicone injection gun to insert into the seabed, and transplanting germinated seagrasses.
Greater understanding of the presence and location of seagrass meadows is needed to aid conservation initiatives and anyone can get involved, wherever you are in the world, by photographing seagrass and logging its location on Project Seagrass’s Seagrass Spotter.
Charities and organisations involved in Solent seagrass restoration projects include: Natural England, Ocean Conservation Trust,  Marine Conservation Society and the RYA who are partners in the Life ReMEDIES project, working alongside Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Project Seagrass, Blue Marine Foundation, WWF, Isle of Wight Estuaries Office,  CHaPRoN, University of Portsmouth and Boskalis Westminster – do let me know if I have missed anyone out! Last night’s meeting can still be viewed on Project Seagrass’ Facebook page.
I look forward to helping out, and hopefully getting muddy, with Project Seagrass soon. 

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