Wednesday, September 19, 2018 by Zoey Sky
Seagrasses are marine plants that make up huge meadows in shallow seas on all continents, except Antarctica. These aquatic plants may help boost the productivity of the world’s fisheries, suggests new research published in Conservation Letters.
The study, “Seagrass meadows support global fisheries production,” was a collaboration between Dr. Leanne Cullen-Unsworth of Cardiff University and Dr. Lina Mtwana Nordlund of Stockholm University. It looked at the connection between fisheries and seagrass distribution, and highlighted the importance of having a unified approach to management governed at local, regional and international levels.
Seagrass meadows have been known to be beneficial fishing habitats. Data from the research produced “the first quantitative global evidence” of the importance of seagrass meadows in supporting world fisheries productivity.”
The study findings showed that one-fifth of the world’s biggest fisheries, like walleye pollock, need healthy seagrass meadows. It also revealed that seagrass-associated fishing occurs on a global scale.
Dr. Cullen-Unsworth noted that seagrass meadows can boost the productivity of global fisheries since they can be used as a nursery habitat for commercial fish stocks like Atlantic cod, conch, tiger prawns, and white spotted spinefoot. (Related: Seaweed could save California’s coastline by reducing ocean acidification.)
She added that there’s a gap between coastal habitat conservation and fisheries management that must be bridged to take advantage of the benefits that seagrasses can offer fisheries and thereby “continue to support human [well-being].”
The research also detailed policy-relevant observations and recommendations that made note of the benefits of seagrass in global fisheries.
Dr. Unsworth noted that the coastal distribution of seagrass makes it susceptible to various threats, both land- and sea-based, like boat damage, coastal development, land runoff, and trawling. There is also proof that with the rapid decline of seagrass globally, fisheries and their stocks are usually endangered, often with negative economic side effects.
She concluded that to change these concerns, the role of seagrass in global fisheries production must reach the policy sphere. The authors emphasized that seagrass needs targeted management to boost and sustain its role in global fisheries production.
Seagrasses thrive in shallow salty and brackish waters all over the globe, from tropical areas to the Arctic Circle.
Learn more about the benefits of aquatic plants at Ecology.news.