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Multi-lingual seagrass information posters launched

An illustration of seagrass with the text "Seagrass Information Posters" overlayed

July 4, 2024 Content Team Seagrass meadows provide a range of environmental, economic, and social benefits to people and planet. They provide habitat, food, and shelter to thousands of species of fish, invertebrates, mammals, reptiles, and birds. Through their diverse use as fishing grounds, they support the creation of jobs and provide access to food sources like fish and invertebrates. Their leaves help to purify water, reducing pollutants like heavy metals and harmful bacteria. Seagrass meadows trap carbon within the seabed and, if left undisturbed, can store this for millennia. Their large and deep network of roots extend throughout the seabed helping to stabilise our coastlines. Seagrass Information Posters As part of a recent project, Project Seagrass has been working with Languages United and Green Standard Schools on the creation of multi-lingual seagrass information posters providing an insight into seagrass. The seagrass information posters are free to download from the Project Seagrass website and are available in the following languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Croatian, Greek, Italian, and Polish. The poster design was created by illustrator and science communicator Jack Cowley. The following Green Standard Schools supporting members were involved in the translation of the posters: French In Normandy, CLIC International House Sevilla, Humboldt-Institut, Scuola Leonardo da Vinci Milano, Κέντρο Ξένων Γλωσσών Βαρελά and Škola Jantar. Partners WHY SEAGRASS Discover why it is vital we save the world’s seagrass Explore More

Project Update: Restoration Forth | June 2024

June 27, 2024 Content Team Restoration Forth aims to restore seagrass meadows and native oysters into the Firth of Forth, to create a healthier coastline for people and nature. Find out more about the project here.  Orkney seagrass trip Next month the seagrass team will be departing for their annual seed collection trip in Orkney. Following a productive planting season in March 2024, the team will be returning to Kirkwall to collect Zostera marina seeds that will be planted in March 2025. Restoration Forth employs a non-destructive method for collecting seagrass seeds, shoots are hand-picked by snorkellers and divers through a selective process to ensure donor meadows are not over picked. This year, Project Seagrass are working with Heriot-Watt University and local scallop divers to collect seeds from subtidal seagrass meadows. Prior to seed harvesting, the team conduct extensive surveys of the donor meadows to ensure that the harvesting of seeds will not cause a significant effect to the health or size of the meadows. The deployment of a dive team will increase the yield of seeds collected this year, by accessing subtidal parts of the meadow which are not usually accessible through snorkelling. Join us for snorkelling sessions at Finstown! Restoration Forth are organising seagrass snorkel sessions this July and August to showcase the rich diversity of marine life that live in these amazing habitats and to demonstrate how we collect seagrass seeds. Further details can be found here. Photo credit: Raymond Besant Photo credit: Raymond Besant Oyster Citizen Science We are very excited to announce that the new oyster citizen science activity booklet is now live! Our new booklet contains activities for everyone around the Firth of Forth to get involved in contributing to oyster restoration. You can find the activities and all the information on how to take part on the webpage here under ‘Help Restore the Firth of Forth’. The Restoration Forth team, with the help of volunteers, will be beach hopping around East Lothian, Edinburgh and Fife with the activity booklet next week. Please do pop by and say hello! We will be at Port Seton Links and Fisherrow Sands, Musselburgh, on Friday 28th June and Cramond Beach and Silver Sands, Aberdour, on Saturday 29th. Timings and more information about the events can be found here.  Oyster Observer Guide Update Thank you so much to those of you who have completed and submitted an Oyster Observer Guide survey. This information will help inform which sites will be most suitable for oyster restoration work. We so far have surveys from the following locations: Fife: Kingsbarns, Ravenscraig Edinburgh: Cramond East Lothian: Seton Beach, Yellowcraig, Morrisons Haven, Belhaven Bay, Longniddry (Bents 1, 2 and 3) Fisherrow Sands and Musselburgh beach. If you have completed a survey but are still to submit your results, you can do so here. Likewise, if you would like to get involved, the Oyster Observer Guide and instructions on how to take part can be found here.   Photo credit: Caitlin Godfrey Climate Resilience survey WWF want to learn more about the climate resilience impacts of their projects.  They are running this very short survey to find out more about the impact Restoration Forth has had on you, and your thoughts about local community and climate resilience. It should only take about 5 minutes to complete, and you will be entered into a prize draw to win a £50 Scotland Loves Local gift card.   Click here to start the survey  (closes on the 8th July 2024). Goodbye 100 species The inspiring 100 Species exhibition project is now finished, after having been displayed at Heart of Newhaven to the Scottish Seabird Centre and, finally, the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther.  Edinburgh Shoreline held a little thank-you party in the Anstruther Museum for all the Fife contributors on 7th June.  During this the winning paintings from a local schools art competition, organised by the Museum and inspired by the 100 species exhibition, were displayed. A total of 480 children participated and, through their engagement, learned all about Restoration Forth, oysters and seagrass.  The Newhaven Community Choir performed, included one song specially written as a homage to Restoration Forth. Look out for videos on the Edinburgh Shoreline YouTube channel – uploading soon. In Anstruther there were 2,070 visitors to the exhibition at the Museum.  We are really pleased about the interest this project has raised – through the researching and making of responses to individual species and the huge interest generated through exhibiting them around the Forth. Several of our contributors have already engaged with or signed up for future oyster cleaning events, started regular beach events and expressed interest in future citizen science opportunities. Photo credit Karen Chambers.

Catalyst Cymru funding supports Pride Cymru collaboration

Two adults are using DIS guns to insert seagrass seeds into sediment on the beach at Hafan y Mor. The sun is reflecting of the sea in the background.

June 19, 2024 Content Team This Pride Month we’re celebrating our work with Pride Cymru. Thanks to support from Catalyst Cymru, Pride Cymru volunteers supported fieldwork to plant seagrass seeds as part of our programme of restoration work in North Wales. The planting took place earlier this year in Hafan y Môr, Pwllheli. An introduction to Project Seagrass was delivered by our Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator Jo followed by an introduction to members of the team. The group were briefed on how to plant seagrass seeds using the DIS (Dispenser Injection System) planting method and were also shown how to use GPS Navigation Devices and a Bathyscope. As a result of the activity which included Pride Cymru Volunteers, around 350,000 seagrass seeds were planted. Each volunteer involved dispensed around 1600 seeds. The plots will be monitored to assess germination rates over the lifetime of the wider project. Through the project Project Seagrass had the opportunity to engage new volunteers who now have a basic knowledge of seagrass systems and the work that we do. The volunteers can share their experience and recommend this activity to others based on direct experience. Sign up to volunteer with Project Seagrass here. This work was made possible thanks to the support from the Catalyst Cymru Community Grant Scheme, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, administered by WCVA.

Project Seagrass head to Naples for ISBW

ISBW Conference Logo

June 14, 2024 Content Team Between the 17th and 21st June 2024, over 500 scientists, conservation professionals, and managers will converge in Naples, Italy for the 15th International Seagrass Biology Workshop (ISBW15). It will be two years since the last meeting in Annapolis, USA. The theme of ISBW15 is “Seagrasses in the Anthropocene”, centred around the fact that human activities are placing ever-increasing pressure on seagrass ecosystems at both a local and global scale. As a result of ongoing changes in environmental conditions, seagrass ecosystems have altered to an extent that has not previously been observed. The challenge currently facing the global community is the need to establish a new baseline and protect, restore, and rehabilitate the seagrass ecosystems that currently remain. Workshops Ben, Leanne and Lucy will be hosting a session on “Securing resilient and just seagrass social-ecological systems” which explores how we can manage and conserve seagrass meadows for both people and planet, with a view to showcasing how humans are an integral part of seagrass systems, shaping ecological dynamics both positively and negatively, that we can no longer ignore. Ben will also be co-hosting a workshop on the final day of the conference focused on Hypervolume modelling – a multivariate tool for seagrass ecosystem assessments. During the workshop, Ben and his colleagues will present multiple case studies using hypervolumes in seagrass ecosystems, followed by a walkthrough of the data and R code used to conduct the hypervolume analyses. Talks The Project Seagrass team will be delivering a number of talks throughout the week of the conference. Esther will discuss the threats that seagrass ecosystems across the British Isles are currently experiencing as a result of poor water quality. Within the context of an increased interest in seagrass restoration, the talk will emphasise the need to understand current threats including water quality, coastal development, and poor land use in order to conserve existing seagrass ecosystems, many of which are approaching their ecological tipping point. Ben will deliver a talk on the importance of capacity building to reduce parachute science and to fill gaps in existing knowledge of seagrass. Ben will present an approach developed through the IKI Seagrass Ecosystem Services project which sought to deliver site-specific assessments of seagrass health, and to evaluate the ecosystem services seagrass provides. As part of this project a group of six local NGOs and community groups at project sites (Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and Timor-Leste) were empowered to assess seagrass with the provision of technical tools and capacity building. In her talk, Anouska will assess the role of temperate seagrass meadows (Z. Marina) in supporting fisheries and quantifying its commercial value using a Seagrass Residency Index (SRI) method. Using case study data from 7 UK seagrass meadow sites the research presents a contemporary picture of the economic value of seagrass meadows. Emma’s talk will present data from a trans-national study (Scotland, England, France, and the Netherlands) which investigated planting density and configuration in Z. noltii restoration work using core transplantation. Going forwards, the partnership will continue to assess the site-specific differences and explore effective restoration methods for Z. nolti Richard will present a talk on the interrelationship between seagrass ecosystem services. Posters Alongside the workshops and talks, members of the team will be presenting posters at the conference. Lucy’s poster will highlight the high variability in seagrass restoration success, exploring lessons learned and how learning from setbacks and successes can inform future restoration. Emily will present data from a number of separate trials examining the use of a range of substrates and additions, such as nutrients, to determine the most effective methods of growing seagrass in artificial environments. To find out more about the conference visit the International Seagrass Biology Workshop website.

World Ocean Day 2024 – catalysing action for seagrass

Dugong feeding on seagrass, Great Fringing Reef, Red Sea Credit Anett Szaszi Ocean Image Bank

June 7, 2024 Content Team The theme of the 2024 World Ocean Day is catalyzing action for our ocean and climate.   This recognises the fact that the health of the marine environment, including our globally declining seagrass meadows, requires significantly stronger local, national, and international action from both government and corporate leaders.  In this article we consider collaborative approaches available to Governments to fulfill their responsibilities to seagrass conservation in light of recent commitments made at the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).  Multi-sector partnerships for seagrass conservation In February 2024, parties at the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) COP14 in Uzbekistan passed a resolution that recognises the role that seagrasses play in supporting migratory species. This is the first time that seagrass’ important role for migratory species has been recogised within a global context with the resolution requiring signatory states to report on their progress towards seagrass-related biodiversity goals.   The resolution presents a significant opportunity for signatory states and one which will require a collaborative and cross-sector approach given the requirement for governments to report on the location of seagrass meadows, the migratory species utilising them, and the threats facing these important habitats.  The scale of this work will require significant investment which working in isolation is likely to render unachievable financially. Governments could instead opt for the creation of multi-sector strategic partnerships in deliver their reporting requirements and leverage sufficient funding towards this work.  One approach available to Governments could be to develop strategic partnerships with NGOs and scientific institutions to develop ecosystem service credits or other new financing systems. These marine credits could subsequently be sold as offsets to corporations or governments whose activities are having a detrimental impact on our marine environment which would in turn fund the work required to reverse this damage.  However, the effectiveness of any credit system would rely upon its responsible implementation and strong regulation.  Seagrass meadow ecosystems play host to complex interactions between local communities and nature (social-ecological systems). Conservation finance solutions must therefore benefit these communities directly rather than channeling funding to businesses or third parties.   Dugong feeding on seagrass, Great Fringing Reef, Red Sea Photo Credit: Anett Szaszi, Ocean Image Bank Dunlin (Calidris alpina) Credit: Emma ButterworthPhoto Credit: Emma Butterworth Brent Geese (Branta bernicla) Photo Credit: Charles Bagshaw The need for effective seagrass mapping to inform approaches One of the major challenges facing seagrass conservation and restoration is the availability of seagrass maps upon which the successful implementation of approaches such as ecosystem service credits will depend.  Progress and developments continue to be made with mapping methods including satellite remote sensing and underwater vehicles however the current picture remains far from complete. Utilising the local knowledge of indigenous people, citizen scientists, and researchers to build on existing data and create reliable maps will be essential to working towards the resolution’s mapping goals.  Working in partnership will enable COP14 signatory states to make steps towards global net gain for seagrass.  You can read more here.

Restoring the land to restore the sea

Nusi, a member of FORKANI, tends to trees in a nursery.

June 4, 2024 Benjamin Jones Chief Conservation Officer This year’s World Environment Day campaign focuses on land restoration, under the slogan “Our land. Our future. We are #GenerationRestoration.” Loss and degradation of coastal marine ecosystems, compromise the delivery of important ecosystem services to human society. Yet turning the tide on these losses and working towards a net gain in biodiversity is a challenge, not least because coastal marine ecosystems are exposed to threats occurring both in the ocean and on land. Land use change, through conversion of native terrestrial vegetation for agriculture, urbanization, and industry increases runoff and sedimentation, causing degradation of coastal ecosystems such as seagrass meadows.   Swathes of evidence from across the globe reveal that anthropogenic activities from the land are some of the largest drivers of seagrass loss. For example, research from the Philippines has revealed that land use is more important than marine protection for tropical seagrass condition, and our own research has revealed the agricultural drivers of seagrass degradation across the British Isles. Yet for the most part, conservation prioritisation for coastal ecosystems is traditionally centred around protecting intact habitats from ocean-based stressors (e.g., fishing). If we are to conserve seagrass, we need to look beyond the ocean, and to the land. And this year’s World Environment Day is a key reminder of that.  To conserve seagrass, should we be protecting habitat on land, protecting habitat in the ocean, restoring habitat on land, restoring habitat in the ocean, or a mixture of these actions? Answering this question is extremely difficult, not least when data is absent, histories of change are blurred, priorities for monitoring and management change and the nature and extent of threats to seagrass are unknown. In these instances, we believe that it is vital to understand which threats local stakeholders observe or perceive as being most persistent. Interweaving indigenous and local knowledge, and other expert witness knowledge as alternative data sources, is key.  Our land. Our future.  Seagrass meadows in the Wakatobi National Park (WNP), Indonesia are exploited for their rich fish and invertebrate communities – faunal communities that provide food security and livelihoods across the National Parks islands. Yet, with a growing population, the area of seagrass habitat is decreasing, and plant species composition and health is declining.   Working with our local partner, FORKANI, and after a series of focus groups with local stakeholders, it seemed clear that the issue and threat they felt was most dominant, was sedimentation; the removal of mangroves and primarily forest areas had lessened the ability for land to absorb and store water. Built on indigenous and local knowledge, FORKANI, in collaboration with Project Seagrass, developed an incentives programme designed to provide fruit trees to farmers and landowners to facilitate stabilisation of river banks and reduce sediment deposition to the coast and at the same time improve the continually worsening problem of water storage.  Now, over 5000 trees have been planted along riverbanks across the National Park by FORKANI, as well as school groups and government ministers.   Photo: Nusi, a member of FORKANI, tends to trees in a nursery. Photo: Teenagers and school groups also took part in tree planting.  

Fieldwork Notes from our May fieldwork

A group of Project Seagrass staff and volunteers are gathered on a beach in North Wales as part of our May fieldwork. Our North Wales project lead is kneeling by a quadrat providing a demonstration of how to monitor seagrass.

May 31, 2024 Content Team Read our Project Leads’ fieldwork notes from May: Solent Fieldwork (Anouska Mendzil, Solent Lead) Solent fieldwork update: Day 1 Myself and Manning arrived to the Isle of Wight around 14:00 and met Becky. We had an afternoon of preparation including labelling pins and mini-buoys, sorting kit, sorting data forms and configuring the mini-buoys. Solent fieldwork update: Day 2 We monitored this years restoration plots at Priory Bay – all transplants remain in place and all plots with seeds (which we saw cotyledons growing last time) have fully germinated to become seedlings. We were joined by Liz, a volunteer, but also a Liz Earle staff member, making us a team of 4. We installed the mini-buoy and associated HOBO logger. I’m not convinced the existing seagrass meadow at Priory Bay is looking in a particularly healthy state, so I think there is monitoring requirement for this, there are however reproductive shoots present with seed development under way. We will be up on the early morning tide (5am) for Mannings project (data collection). Solent fieldwork update: Day 3  We started the day with 4:30 am beach sampling at Seaview for Mannings project, and managed to get some drone imagery of the meadow at Seaview and mooring scars. We also had a lovely surprising visit from a small spotted cat shark. We paid a visit to Cowes Island Sailing Club and met the secretary and dropped off some leaflets in anticipation for the club talk in November. The new Mermaid Garden (by Mermaid Gin) is part of the sailing club which looks great, so quite a nice full-circle collaboration and partnership developing between the three of us. Flo and Jo made it to us and we headed out for round 2 of monitoring at Priory Bay including the Solent Seascape Monitoring protocol. We also managed to download the HOBO data and get a few drone snaps here too. Solent fieldwork update: Day 4 We monitored our restoration planting sites at Thorness on the evening tide, installed the HOBO logger and Mini-Buoy, undertook Solent Seascape Monitoring and Manning managed to get another site for his project. Encouraging to see that the transplants from the donor meadow had reproductive shoots developing at both planting sites despite not having them when we picked them. Still lots of germination at Thorness but would say a bit slower and patchier than at Priory Bay Solent fieldwork update: Day 5 We did a bit of a recce at Ryde to show Flo and Jo the area for the seed picking. Currently on the ferry over to Southampton and will make our way over to Beaulieu. We utilised the evening tide to undertake monitoring of all previous experimental planting plots – the mud at Beaulieu is as glorious as ever and even got the better of a few of us. No growth in any of the plots, and fragments seem to have also disappeared. Most of the plot pins remain in place. We downloaded the HOBO logger data. Solent fieldwork update: Day 6 Myself, Flo and Becky headed for the early morning tide to do a recce of Lepe seagrass meadow. Surprising how inshore the meadow was and how different the sediment was there. Seagrass reproductive shoots are already maturing in this location and the meadow looks really healthy. Many fishers utilising the seagrass meadows this morning – they were after bass. Much of the day is cleaning, re-packing, data input and preparation for tomorrow’s engagement event. Myself and Manning are heading home shortly and Jo, Becky and Flo will attend tomorrow’s Family Conservation Awareness Day in Bucklers Hard. South and West Wales Fieldwork (Emma Fox, South and West Wales Lead) South and West Wales  fieldwork update: Day 1 Five of us headed to Llanelli, to collect 75 Z.noltii cores from the donor meadow. The core collecting was easy and lovely in the heat. The struggle came when we were transporting the 75 transplants (which equates to 75 kgs) the mile’s walk back to the van with a slightly wobbly trolley. Nevertheless, the team pulled together and we managed well for 80% of the way, until we crossed paths with a cockler in a truck, who kindly offered to take the crates for the last part! We have since secured access to the meadow with a truck and so tomorrow, when we repeat the operation, it will be a lot smoother! We found we still had plenty of time (very lucky to have a massive tidal window) and decided to push on and head over to our planting site. There the bamboo canes which Celia and I prepped two weeks ago were still in place and we planted out half of the cores before the tide finally started to come in. Ended the day with a debrief and ice-cream. South and West Wales  fieldwork update: Day 2 Today consisted of planting out the last of the cores in the remaining plots. It was nice that we’d halved the work for ourselves because it was also an opportunity for some stakeholder engagement, which meant we had plenty of time for chatting. A good number of people popped down, including Judith (Carmarthen Bay & Estuaries European Marine Site Officer) who helped us out with the transplants, Paul (Carmarthen Conservation Co-ordinator) who is going to help us tomorrow with his truck. Another debrief over ice cream to wrap up, before heading back to HQ to wash kit / prep for tomorrow. South and West Wales  fieldwork update: Day 3 Very similar to day 1, however we had a lift to and from the meadow which was amazing, much much needed to transport the transplants. We also put out a HOBO logger into the Llanelli planting site, before returning late to the warehouse and started prepping for DIS tomorrow. Emily meanwhile brought the Z.marina seeds across from the nursery to the warehouse, along with the Z.noltii which has been in the quarantine tank since August. This is staying in it’s holding tank until

Want to host the 16th International Seagrass Biology Workshop?

The World Seagrass Association Inc. invites expressions of interest from members and interested organisations/institutions who would like to host the 16th International Seagrass Biology Workshop (ISBW) in 2026. The International Seagrass Biology Workshop series is a meeting of research scientists, students and coastal environment managers focusing on global seagrass issues, improving seagrass knowledge, developing networks and advocating for seagrass protection/conservation. ISBWs are often 4-6 day events, made up of 2-3 days of talks (in a conference setting) and 1-2 days of workshops and often include an additional day for a field trip. Participants are generally around 100 individuals, however, this is highly dependent on the venue. The timing for ISBWs has mostly been late September, although the timing is dependent on what is most suitable for the hosting country (e.g. tides, holidays, etc). We would also like to encourage organisations/institutions in localities that have been underrepresented in past ISBWs to consider hosting this event to highlight the need for seagrass research and to expand our research networks. After the first official ISBW in 1993 it was decided that meetings were to be held at two year intervals, swapping between developed and developing nation locations. The 2024 meeting (ISBW15) will be held in Naples, Italy, from 17-21 June, in conjunction with the World Seagrass Conference (WSC2024) (https://www.isbw15.it/). Past ISBW venues include:ISBW1 (1993)    Japan – KominatoISBW2 (1996)    Australia – Rottnest IslandISBW3 (1998)    The Philippines – Quezon City and BolinaoISBW4 (2000)    France – Corsica!SBW5 (2002)    Mexico – EnsenadaISBW6 (+Conference) (2004)    Australia -Townsville and Magnetic islandISBW7 (2006)    Africa – ZanzibarISBW8 (2008)    Canada – Bamfield, Vancouver islandISBW9 (+Conference) (2010)     Thailand – Phuket and Trang ProvinceISBW10 (2012)   Brazil – BuziosISBW11 (2014)   China – Sanya, Hainan ProvinceISBW12 (2016)   United Kingdom – Nant Gwrtheyrn, WalesISBW13 (+Conference) (2018) SingaporeISBW14 (+Conference) (2022) USA – Annapolis, Maryland To read about the history of the ISBW series, seeColes, R., Short, F., Fortes, M. and Kuo, J (2014) Twenty years of seagrass networking and advancing seagrass science: The International Seagrass Biology Workshop Series. Pacific Conservation Biology 20(1): 8–16. (http://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/302/paper/PC140008.htm), andHind-Ozan, E.J., Jones, B.L., 2017. Seagrass science is growing: A report on the 12th International Seagrass Biology Workshop. Marine Pollution Bulletin.http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.08.017 The International Seagrass Biology Workshop (ISBW) is an official activity of the  World Seagrass Association Inc., and WSA Inc. plays a guiding role, and assists the Convener/Organising Committee when requested. Members or organisations/institutions who are interested in hosting the 16th International Seagrass Biology Workshop (ISBW) in 2026 should submit an Expression of Interest by email to Len McKenzie, Secretary, World Seagrass Association Inc., at wsa.secretary@gmail.com no later than March 01, 2024.Expressions of Interest should be no longer than 3 pages and include the following:• Name of Applicant• Applicant’s contact information including physical address and email address• Proposed Hosting Institution (add a brief description)• Country and proposed location for the event• Institutional Support• Tentative Venue Details (conference, workshop and field trips)• Preliminary Proposed Theme• Travel & Visa Considerations• Health & Safety Considerations• Diversity, Equity & Inclusivity ConsiderationsThe WSA may require more detailed information in future before a final decision. If you require additional information or any enquiries, please email wsa.secretary@gmail.com   Previous Post January 15, 2024 ISBW press release updates World Seagrass Association

World Seagrass Day and Seagrass Awareness Month at Project Seagrass

Storm Garry March 1st marked an important date in seagrass history as globally we celebrated the very first World Seagrass Day, formally recognised by the United Nations! This day will continue to annually raise awareness of the importance of healthy seagrass meadows. Seagrass is the only marine flowering plant in our ocean, creating vital marine habitats (known as seagrass meadows) within shallow, sheltered coastal areas. Seagrass meadows have many ecosystem services: they serve as a habitat, nursery ground and feeding area for thousands of marine animals. They also produce oxygen, improve water quality, buffer ocean acidification, reduce coastal erosion and lock carbon within their sediments. However, seagrasses are threatened globally and this is often due to anthropogenic threats such as industrial and agricultural pollution and coastal development. In order to protect these meadows, we must spread awareness of the ecosystem services seagrass holds. By conserving and restoring seagrass we can contribute to achieving 16 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, set by the United Nations. Here at Project Seagrass, we kicked off World Seagrass Day with a live international panel, where we took ‘a deep dive into the global challenges of seagrass conservation’.  Within this webinar panelists discussed the challenges seagrass meadows are facing and how we can overcome them which built on our 2018 research article with the same name. Our international panel was followed by a LinkedIn Live alongside our partners at CGI UK, where we celebrated the release of a new open-source algorithm which will aid the mitigation of climate change and map biodiversity, by locating and quantifying seagrass meadows using satellite imagery. On the other side of the digital sphere, our Chief Conservation Officer (CCO) Benjamin Jones made an online appearance as President of the World Seagrass Association, speaking at a national event in Sri Lanka, hosted by the Ministry of Environment. This was hugely significant for Sri Lanka, since they set the ball rolling by tabling the resolution that led to the adoption of an official UN World Seagrass Day. Project Seagrass also participated in activities alongside our “Seagrass Ecosystem Services Project” partners Blue Ventures. The team at Blue Ventures and Husikonservasaun, celebrated with a beach clean, community events, seagrass talks and locally managed marine area (LMMA) talks in Hera, Timor Leste. Credit: Blue Ventures and Husikonservasaun The month of March is also considered Seagrass Awareness Month, the roots for which lie in Florida, USA, where organisations like the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida use the month to celebrate seagrass and raise awareness about the significance of seagrass for the Florida’s waterways and wildlife. Throughout Seagrass Awareness Month, our Seagrass Ecosystem Service Project partners were busy conducting further Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) and seagrass assessments. Blue Ventures, Timor Leste, Save Andaman Network, Thailand and Yapeka, Indonesia are using these assessments to identify key areas of seagrass for fisheries and monitor seagrass health. In addition, a new phase of our Seagrass Ocean Rescue project began in Wales, England and Scotland, UK, with over 300,000 seeds that we harvested last summer, leaving our seed storage unit to be planted. In Wales, this project will continue until the end of 2026, with an aim to have planted seagrass across 10 hectares of the seabed. This project builds on the support of the local community in Pen Llyn, Wales. Furthermore, we have also teamed up with WWF Cymru with a petition to call upon the Welsh Government and express the urgency to support the restoration seagrass meadows. Credit: Theo Vickers The first UN designated World Seagrass Day gave seagrass the recognition it deserves, being celebrated across the world. In recent years there have been many advancements in seagrass knowledge, however there is still a long way to go for seagrass. By continuing to raise awareness and better understanding these incredible marine plants, we can protect these vital ecosystems. Find out more about what we do our website: www.projectseagrass.org For more information on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: https://sdgs.un.org/goals

Understanding Wales past oceans to inspire their biodiverse future

Dr Richard Unsworth, Project Seagrass and Swansea University The seas around Wales have so much potential. They offer rich biodiversity hidden within productive lush habitats such as kelp forests, salt marshes and seagrass meadows. Life in these waters can be so ingenious that it bioengineers its own environment. Out of seemingly nothing, reefs and seagrass appear that can protect our coast and filter our water. Deepwater horse mussels that bring barren depths to life. All these habitats are teaming with life. We have Mearl beds too that are like the coral reefs of the Atlantic. We have whales, we have dolphins and we can even see turtles feeding on summertime jellyfish blooms. We also have sharks and seabirds a plenty. We potentially have it all. The Celtic seas around Wales used to support the food supply and livelihoods of the people of our nation, but this is no longer the case. Scratching the surface of history and it doesn’t take much to see this glorious past that we’ve allowed to be washed away. Our industrial past of mining and heavy industry as well as our overfishing and gross mismanagement of land have left a terrible decimation. Visiting Penllyn earlier this summer I was reminded of the Three herrings, the symbol of Nefyn – Nefyn herrings used to be sold as a high value product to the wealthy in Manchester and there used to be an abundant Fishery for the now mostly extinct crayfish. But these fisheries have long since disappeared. In South Wales, 1000’s of boats going out daily into Swansea bay collected Oysters a plenty, these provided jobs, food and a way of life. And now all that is left of this abundance of sea life in Oystermouth and the Mumbles are stories and tales. Wales is left with folklore rather than food. It’s also fascinating to consider what habitats and species would have populated our South Wales coastline before we build ports, reclaimed vast swaths of the intertidal and flooded coastal embayments with barrages. These areas were prime for biodiverse habitats. Sat in a Laugharne Pub soaking up the atmosphere of Dylan Thomas you see pictures from the 1930’s of a 3m long sea monster proudly held by a group of men. This picture isn’t from Cambodia on one of Jeremy Wades ‘ Sea Monster’ series, but it’s a sturgeon caught in the Taf Estuary in what’s now the Carmarthen bay and rivers special area of conservation. Our coastal environments were once full of such diverse and abundant life that is now largely locally extinct. A short trip onto the delightful town Tenby, or as it was locally known ‘Dinbych Y Pysgod’ or ‘Fort of the fishes’ you readily see signs everywhere of historically productive fisheries that are now largely lifeless. Fishermen on the beach get excited when they catch a small plaice, and my son out fishing with his grandparents fails to even catch the odd Mackeral. Hardly the abundance that led to the development of a thriving town and furnished the wallets of the monks of Caldey. Just how did we as a nation let this decline happen. How can we possibly pass this travesty of an environment to the next generation without doing something drastic? Moving west from Tenby we find the remnants of a once vast and abundant fishing community on the shores of the Cleddau. Yes, the waters of Milford Haven were over fished, but we also allowed heavy industry, poor land management and inappropriate farming activity to destroy the very habitats that had sat there for 10’s of thousands of years and supported the fisheries. We’ve allowed this to continue with the ongoing pollution of the sea from the activities of the land. Milford Haven waterway was once home to Wales last major Mearl bed, but that gave way to the pursuit of ever bigger infrastructure for oil and gas. As we heat the waters of the Cleddau with power station outfalls and subject the area to ever-increasing nutrient loads, the delicate seagrass continues to struggle as it increasingly respires without enough energy to keep going. As catchments and coasts degrade the place becomes ever more awash with mobile sand and mud particles further damaging the environment. Divers in the 1970’s tell of clear waters at the Neyland bridge in Milford Haven at sites that would now be too plagued with sediment and are too murky to even consider for a dive. Wales, what have we done? How did this happen? Now is not the time for a blame game, we need action instead. The Welsh Government has declared a biodiversity emergency as well a climate emergency. Time is of the essence and there is much to do. We need to take significant action to enable our marine environment to once again support our communities, our livelihoods, our well-being and most of all our planetary support. Last week we saw the launch of the Welsh Government Biodiversity Deep Dive recommendations of how the nation will start to repair its depleted habitats and associated biodiversity. A key part of these recommendations are a series of urgent actions required for the marine environment. I was part of the working group of biodiversity experts tasked with creating these recommendations. It’s fantastic to see the fresh impetus for the government to take action on establishing marine protected areas and fulfil their election promise to invest in the restoration of seagrass and salt marsh. Politics aside, I was proud to be working with a minister and government who want to do the right thing, who want to actively reverse biodiversity loss and who understand the precarious environmental tight rope that we’re currently walking and the history of political promises but limited change. What we now need is action, we need the Welsh Government on the back of a terrible political climate from central government to push their prosed recommendations and agenda forward. We need the Marine Protected Area plans to move out from their covers and