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 (fisheries nursery) for juvenile fish species such as Atlantic Cod, Herring and Whiting.
Seagrass meadows are a Priority Marine Feature in the under the UK Post2010 Biodiversity Framework. They are protected in 26 locations around Scotland, within Marine Protected Areas but have been subject to historic loss and remained threatened.
Seagrass meadows play an important role in the biodiversity of marine ecosystems in Scotland; supporting a range of animals. These benefits include; providing shelter and a source of food for a wide range of marine animals, helping to mitigate climate change by storing carbon and reducing coastal erosion by trapping sediment and knitting together the seabed through their roots, slowing down currents and waves.
1. Advocate for the improved recognition for seagrasses as essential fisheries nursery habitat.
2. Ensure the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy is fully implemented.
3. Ensure important blue carbon habitats, like seagrass, are accounted for in the National and Regional Marine Plans.
4. Advocate for the improvement of our knowledge on the distribution, health and enhancement potential of seagrass meadows.
- 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.
- Nutrient enrichment from farm runoff and sewage outflows promoting algal growth, outcompeting seagrass