Nature Champions: Seagrass

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Seagrasses are submerged flowering plants found in shallow marine waters all around the coasts of Scotland, from the great firths of the east, to the sea lochs and islands of the west. There are two true species of seagrass in Scotland (Eelgrass and Dwarf eelgrass). The underwater meadows that seagrass form provide essential habitats for a number of different species, including important nursery grounds fish species such as Atlantic Cod, Herring and Whiting. Seagrass meadows are a Priority Marine Featureunder the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework. They are protected in 26 locations around Scotland, within Marine Protected Areas, but have been subject to significant historic loss and remained threatened.

Seagrass meadows play an important role in supporting diverse and healthy marine ecosystems in Scotland by providing shelter and food. Other benefits include mitigating climate change by capturing and storing carbon, reducing coastal erosion by absorbing energy from currents and waves, and stabilising the seafloor by trapping sediment and knitting together the seabed through their roots.

Action Needed

  • Advocate for the improved recognition for seagrasses as essential fisheries nursery habitat 
  • Ensure the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy is fully implemented.
  • Ensure important blue carbon habitats, like seagrass, are accounted for in the National and Regional Marine Plans
  • Advocate for the improvement of our knowledge on the distribution, health and enhancement potential of seagrass meadows.

Threats

  • Lack of data on extent and distribution of seagrass sites.
  • Physical damage from anchoring, poorly designed mooring systems, dredging and mobile fishing gear. 
  • Direct pollution from urban, industrial and agricultural water run-off affecting growth and distribution.

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