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Displaying items by tag: Seagrass

A natural marine resource more important than the rain forests is in danger of dying out unless funding is provided to help protect it.

Zostera Marina is a type of seagrass which grows in the inshore areas of south Wexford, it supports biodiversity, cleans the surrounding water and helps take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. However, local seagrass habitats are under threat from the invasive species Sargassum muticum, or ‘wire weed’, which stunts its growth and eventually kills it.

Mick Berry of Coastwatch and local environmentalist Karin Dubsky invited members of the public and government officials to St Patrick’s Bridge in Kilmore Quay to highlight the importance of seagrass and the urgent need to safeguard its future. “England has already lost 92 per cent of its sea grass and Ireland’s levels are patchy, we don’t know how much is left,” said Mick. “We need to map it around the coast of Wexford and identify where it might be. People don’t know what it looks like, even the people living here in Kilmore, they get it mixed up with green algae. At the moment no one is doing anything to preserve it, there’s a lot of red tape holding everything up.”

As a coastal county, Wexford is at the forefront of this fight to protect this vital plant. “Seagrass is one of the top plants for sequestering ocean carbon, its way ahead of the rain forest, it’s so important and it’s right on our doorstep, there’s lots of it in Wexford,” explained Mick. “We’re pushing for funding so we can go out and find it. But we need divers to go and look for it in certain areas, the government department should be doing this not us, we’re doing it out of love.” 

Salvation may yet be at hand in the form of the new Maritime Area Planning Bill which is currently before the Oireachteas and includes plans to give local authorities a role in managing inshore coastal areas. It was published on June 29 and coincided with the launch of the National Marine Planning Framework, Ireland’s first national framework for managing marine activities.

Wexford People has more. 

Published in Coastal Notes

In Co Wexford, a seven-year-old boy has joined the grassroots effort to conserve vulnerable seagrass beds around Ireland’s coastline.

According to RTÉ News, Shem Berry has lent a helping hand to volunteers who have been clearing an invasive seaweed, Sargassum muticum, which smothers a seagrass meadow at Kilmore Quay.

Seagrass meadows are considered key ‘blue carbon’ habitats, acting as a natural carbon-capture store while also filtering sediments, keeping shorelines stable and providing a safe home for inshore marine wildlife.

“I think it’s important to look after the environment, not only on land, but on the sea,” said Shem.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, environmental NGO Coastwatch has called for seagrass habitats to be specified for protection under the State’s new marine planning legislation.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

Environmental group Coastwatch has called on the Government to specify protection of seagrass beds in new maritime planning legislation.

As The Times Ireland reports, seagrass or Zostera marina is the inshore equivalent of coral reefs or tropical rainforests in nurturing habitats for diverse species.

Seagrass also helps to filter sediments and keep shorelines stable, but a number of such areas in Irish inshore waters are threatened by an invasive species known as “wire weed” or Sargassum muticum.

“These are some of our most valuable blue carbon habitats”, Coastwatch coordinator and marine biologist Karin Dubsky explained at an event held in Co Wexford last week to highlight the issue.

Coastwatch had invited key Government officials and Austrian ambassador to Ireland Dr Thomas Nade to view a seagrass meadow at St Patrick’s Bridge near Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford.

Seagrass beds in Bantry Bay, Co Cork and at Fenit in Tralee Bay, Co Kerry are also at risk of the invasive species, which is at its most dense in May and June.

The new Maritime Area Planning Bill is geared to ensure the regulated development of offshore wind farms but gives local authorities a role in managing inshore coastal areas.

By specifying certain habitats requiring protection, this would empower local authorities to protect seagrass and to remove invasive species like Sargassum muticum, Dubsky said.

The Maritime Area Planning Bill is being progressed ahead of separate legislation on marine protected areas, and this latter legislation could take some years, she said.

“There is huge potential to get things right, but also a huge potential to miss the boat as there is so much marine and coastal development now,” she said.

“We also need to think in terms of inter-county management- the Waterford estuary borders on five local authority areas,” she said.

“We also need to strengthen co-operation between the north and south,” she said.

“This is not a Bill to help the offshore renewable sector get what it needs – this is legislation for all of us, and we have to watch that there isn’t a shortcut,” she said.

Read The Times here

Published in Marine Planning

Invasive seaweed is a growing threat to Ireland’s vital seagrass meadows, according to Coastwatch Ireland.

The Irish Times reports on concerns for the health of seagrass habitats around the coast affected by the presence of Sargassum muticum — a brown seaweed that originates in western Pacific waters and has spread in Europe since the 1970s.

In Kilmore Quay, Coastwatch says a large zostera marina seagrass meadow is being killed off by a blanket of the seaweed.

Seagrass meadows are ‘blue carbon’ habitats, acting as significant stores of CO2 captured from the atmosphere. But they are vulnerable and can be easily overrun, says Coastwatch’s Karin Dubsky.

Last October, Afloat.ie noted findings in an Irish Wildlife Trust report that highlighted “significant declines in carbon-sequestering seagrass meadows” in four Special Areas of Conservation.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Environment
Tagged under

Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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