Seagrass is a flowering plant that forms a lush underwater meadow on the seabed. It’s a critically endangered EU red-listed habitat and a UK habitat of principal importance. Seagrass beds support a diverse ecosystem which provide food and shelter for fish and other animals, from tiny invertebrates to marine mammals and waterfowl, are spawning, nursery and refuge areas for fish, including commercially important plaice. It stabilises sediment with its roots, absorb nutrients and cleans the surrounding seawater, it also stores carbon helping to prevent climate change.
LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES is a four-year marine conservation partnership funded by the EU LIFE programme to help protect and restore sensitive seabed habitats in southern England. The project is led by Natural England in partnership with Ocean Conservation Trust, Marine Conservation Society, Royal Yachting Association and Plymouth City Council/Tamar Estuaries Consultative Forum. The Solent Forum will be helping with stakeholder engagement work around the Solent Maritime site.
The LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES project aims to:
The 5 project sites are Marine Protected Areas and Special Areas of Conservation. All 5 are popular with recreational boaters:
In winter 2020/21 the project began trialling Advanced Mooring Systems (AMS) near Yarmouth Harbour on the Isle of Wight. These moorings are better for the environment and for boats. They will be used in place of existing chain moorings which can damage seagrass meadows. Working closely with the Yarmouth Harbour Master on this trial, it will provide vital information for introducing AMS more widely. Natural England site leads are engaging locally to agree further locations. Collingwood Environmental Planning was appointed to explore the practices of recreational boaters in and around Plymouth and the Solent/Isle of Wight. Their findings will help inform how the project engages with boaters.
In April 2021, a total of 16,000 seagrass seed bags and 2,200 seedling bags were planted by the Ocean Conservation Trust (OCT) as part of the project, it aims to plant a total of eight hectares of seagrass meadows – four hectares in Plymouth Sound and four hectares in the Solent Maritime Special Area of Conservation.
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust have launched a partnership with Boskalis Westminster Ltd to undertake a seagrass restoration project within the Solent, starting with an important research and development phase.
The Solent Seagrass Restoration Project, which will be led by the Trust’s Senior Marine Biologist Dr Tim Ferrero, aims to identify the best methodology for restoring this hugely important marine species within the Solent, whilst also monitoring the habitat as a provider of carbon sequestration.
In October 2019, the Trust launched its Wilder 2030 strategy, which calls for a wilder future and 30% of land and sea restored for nature’s recovery by 2030. The Solent Seagrass Restoration Project is a vital piece of the puzzle in working towards the Trust’s vision and in partnership with Boskalis Westminster, the Trust aims to restore seagrass habitats in the Solent to their historical levels and in all locations that could support it.
This project contributes to the Boskalis ambition to further develop nature-based infrastructure solutions to protect and enhance coastal ecosystems. In addition to beginning work on the research and development phase of the project, the Trust will also be working to increase awareness of seagrass and its vital role in tackling the climate and ecological emergencies.