The importance of seagrasses is highlighted in a new report, Out of the Blue: The Value of Seagrasses to the Environment and to People. KEYWORDS fishing gear, fishing vessel, gleaning, recreational fishing, small-scale fisheries, subsistence fisheries 1 | INTRODUCTION Fisheries are vital for the maintenance of global food security (Pauly, Watson, & Alder, 2005; Rice & Garcia, 2011). But in the 1930s seagrass meadows from North Carolina to Canada were practically eradicated, likely the result of a plague of slime mold disease combined with a devastating 1933 hurricane. Coastal ecosystems and the services they provide are adversely affected by a wide variety of human activities. First, they are coastal habitats, readily accessible from the shore by wading or snorkelling and in some locations (i.e. Seagrass meadows also provide physical habitat in areas that would otherwise be bare of any vegetation. With the ability to capture carbon dioxide up to 50 percent faster than the earth's green carbon ecosystems such as trees, it is one of the earth's most efficient carbon sinks and is a much-needed weapon against climate change. Like meadows on land, seagrass meadows are highly productive and support extensive food webs. They facilitate biodiversity, act as natural sponges to filter nitrogen out of the water and increase water quality and clarity by slowing the current down and increasing the stability of the sediment layer. They are suffering rapid global decline in the face of eutrophication and other pollution, damage caused by fishing activities, tourism and coastal development. Seagrass meadows can be particularly difficult to map. A seagrass meadow. The importance of herbivores in seagrass meadows has been well-documented, but the links between food webs and ecosystem services in seagrass meadows have not previously been made explicit. Seagrass meadows are also high in biodiversity. By producing oxygen through photosynthesis, meadows could help offset decreased oxygen levels caused by warmer water temperatures (oxygen is less soluble in warm than in cold water). Seagrass produces 0.5-1kg of carbon per square metre every year – three times as much as a coral reef ecosystem. These extensive meadows are made up of a group of flowering plants that are unique in their… NOAA/Heather Dine. seagrass meadows, the mean PIC accumulation rate in sea-grass sediments is found to be 126.3 31.05gPICm2 yr1. Seagrass meadows have a central role to play in developing ocean literacy in the UK. Their abundance and the important roles they play earn them the title of third most valuable ecosystem on the planet after estuaries and wetlands. With 300,000km 2 of seagrass meadows recorded worldwide, they cover only around 0.2% of the ocean floor, but account for 10% of all carbon stored in the ocean each year. Seagrass meadows are important marine ecosystems, providing a range of services including carbon sequestration, nursery habitats for fish and coastal protection. Also known as ‘Blue Carbon’ ecosystems, tidal salt marshes and seagrass meadows can store high amounts of carbon from our atmosphere. ... For valuations, seagrass meadows are treated as monolithic entities that provide similar services over the spatial scale of the meadow. seagrass meadows are negatively affected by impacts accruing from the billion or more people who live within 50 km of them. It’s no secret that cutting down trees is a main driver of climate change. Undersea meadows play a significant role in deciding the processes and resources of near-shore coastal ecosystems as they have physical, chemical and biological effects on habitats. ii Protecting seagrass through Payments for Ecosystem Services Objectives of this document Seagrasses are an important part of many coastal ecosystems worldwide. It is estimated that 17 species of coral reef fish spend their entire juvenile life stage solely on seagrass flats. Nonetheless, ecosystem services studies have focused mainly on temperate seagrass meadows: in North America, Europe, Oceania, and southern coast of Asia. Seagrass meadows are blue carbon ecosystems, they fight climate change by absorbing large amounts of Carbon dioxide from the air and storing it in their root systems. Even if conditions are perfect—low tide, minimal sun glare, not too many waves—finding the exact edge of the seagrass meadow can be murky. Disturbance in these ecosystems can release vast amounts of carbon through mineralization, depending on poorly understood factors, such as soil organic matter (SOM) quality and environmental factors. In order to rank the ecosystem services and their role in the ecosystem, seagrass meadows as a whole were included in the assessment, including the submerged seagrass meadow itself, but also beach wrack on the beach and in all other places where it can be used after taking it out of the natural environment. For perspective, this landmark seagrass meadow project off the coast of Wales used 750,000 seeds to create a five -acre meadow. Seagrass meadows support key ecosystem services, via provision of food directly for herbivores, and indirectly to their predators. Seagrass meadows are found along soft-bottomed, shallow, marine coastlines of every continent except Antartica. Seagrass ecosystems have been shown to have great ecological and economic value. For the first time, researchers have counted the greenhouse gases stored by and emitted from such ecosystems. They provide many ecosystem services – the benefits to people provided by ecosystems … This role could be even more important in the future. Many different fish live in the meadows permanently like the Cobbler, Rough Leatherjacket and Gobbleguts. Due to this three dimensional structure in the water column, many species occupy seagrass habitats for shelter and foraging. Seagrass meadows are also involved in cycling of nutrients from water and sediments. Quantifying these services reveals their contributions to human well-being and helps justify seagrass conservation. NO POVERTY - 1 At least 1 billion people live within, 100km of a seagrass meadow, potentially depending on seagrass ecosystems for their livelihoods (fishing, tourism, etc) Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development: Vol. Seagrass ecosystems improve water quality and clarity, filtering particles out of the water column and preventing resuspension of sediment. 3, pp. 14-28. birdwatching, diving, fishing). Seagrass ecosystem. Hakai geospatial scientists fly a drone in a grid pattern over a meadow, taking photos that are then stitched together into one image. There has been no comprehensive assessment as to whether seagrass ecosystem services are perceived to vary over the … Seagrass Meadows, Ecosystem Services, and Sustainability. There are 40 times more marine animals in seagrass meadows than in the bare sand. The economic value (natural capital) of seagrass meadows was evaluated as higher than 25,000€ per hectare per year, just considering the nutrient cycling service (5). These results indicate that seagrass restoration in Shark Bay may benefit from sourcing plant material from multiple reproductive meadows to increase outcrossed pollination and seed production for natural recruitment. These meadows of seagrass are an important part of many marine ecosystems, as they provide critical habitats for an abundance of fish, shellfish and invertebrates. Request PDF | Effects of a severe storm on seagrass meadows | Extreme environmental events can strongly affect coastal marine ecosystems but are typically unpredictable. viability of seagrass meadows as a global ecosystem service provider. The Philippines has one of the most diverse seagrass meadows in south-east Asia, with substantial dugong populations still existing. Seagrass restoration speeds recovery of ecosystem services by Virginia Institute of Marine Science A researcher collects seeds from an extensive restored eelgrass meadow. They also help with coastal stability. Based on the global extent of seagrass meadows (177000 to 600000km2), these ecosystems globally store between 11 and 39 Pg of PIC in the top metre of sediment and accumu-late between 22 and 75TgPICyr1, representing a signifi- Hence, Blue Carbon ecosystems hold great potential as Nature-based Solutions to mitigate climate change. They are flowering plants, or angiosperms, and grow as ‘meadows’ in subtidal and intertidal zones in tropical, subtropical and temperate seas. food through fisheries, control of erosion and protection against floods. 55, No. The meadows of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica, which is the species with the larger carbon stocks, are currently under threat. Seagrass meadows can be a powerful nature-based climate solution and help sustain communities hard-hit by stressors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, but these important ecosystems continue to decline. Providing a variety of critical ecosystem services, seagrass meadows reduce the impact of costal erosion, support fisheries, improve water quality, provide us with oxygen and store significant amounts of carbon. But a forgotten group of plants is critically important to fixing our climate — and they are being destroyed at an alarming rate. In particular, seagrass meadows are negatively affected by impacts accruing from the billion or more people who live within 50 km of them. Seagrass also acts as an ecosystem engineer, altering the state of its location by balancing heavy-metals, pollutants and nutrients levels and stabilising sediment to prevent coastal erosion. In recognition of this, the historic United Nations Paris Agreement of 2015 emphasizes the critical importance of conserving seagrasses and other Blue Carbon ecosystems. However, rising ocean temperatures threaten seagrass meadows, along with their ability to retain carbon. Seagrass meadows provide cultural services such as sense of identity for local communities and opportunities for recreational activities (e.g. Seagrass meadows play a vital role in mitigating climate change and stabilizing the carbon cycle. 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