A Call for Seagrass Protection

A green turtle (Chelonia mydas) feeds on seagrass in the Caribbean Sea off the Mexican coast. (Photo ScienceMag.com)

Science Magazine’s PERSPECTIVES
3 AUGUST 2018 • VOL 361 ISSUE 6401

By Leanne C. Cullen-Unsworth and Richard Unsworth

Seagrass conservation is crucial for climate mitigation, biodiversity protection, and food security.

Seagrasses are marine flowering plants that are found along temperate and tropical coastlines around the world. They provide habitat for fish, shellfish, and marine herbivores such as turtles (see the photo) and dugong and also serve important physical roles—for example, by filtering sediments and reducing wave and current energies near coasts

(1). By filtering the water column of pathogens, seagrasses reduce contamination in seafood while also reducing coral disease

(2). Given the global distribution of seagrass and its role in climate mitigation and food security, the protection of these ecosystems has implications for the planetary boundaries within which humanity can safely operate

(3, 4). Growing understanding of the roles of seagrass shows that their protection is crucial for staying within safe planetary boundaries and sustaining fisheries productivity and food security

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To learn more about what is being done locally, plan on attending:

Fishers Island Seagrass Management Coalition* Meeting
October 23 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
HL Ferguson Museum

Guest speakers, Matias Tong, Data Technician, and Stephen Lloyd, Sr. Spatial Analyst/GIS Manager – both with the TNC – will present their analyses and results of the boating and eelgrass surveys conducted around Fishers Island last year. NYSDEC representative, Vicky O’Neill, will also attend. A complete agenda for the meeting will follow in early October. All are welcome.

*Fishers Island Seagrass Management (FISM) Coalition

The Fishers Island Seagrass Management (FISM) Coalition is comprised of community representatives from Fishers Island institutions including the H.L. Ferguson Museum, Fishers Island Conservancy, Town of Southold, Island Community Board, Fishers Island Development Company, Fishers Island Club, Hay Harbor Club, Fishers Island Yacht Club, Harbor Committee, Fishers Island School, Pirates Cove Marina, and Fishers Island Ferry District, as well as from the following groups: commercial and recreational fishing, aquaculture, contracted ferries, landscapers, boaters and divers.

The goal of the FISM Coalition is to establish a co-management process for the island’s seagrass meadows, one in which the island community and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) would share seagrass management authority and responsibility. Through joint investigation, the co-production of knowledge, shared learning, communication and building trust, the FISM Coalition seeks to align community and state seagrass management goals and objectives, as well as define and implement a structure for collaborative participation and decision-making that is functional and inclusive.

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