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New mooring buoys to save seagrass beds

Posted 20 October 2021  |  Environmental news

The #SaveOurSeagrass campaign, a conservation project which Valeport supports in Devon, has just taken an exciting step forward with the installation of three brand new boat moorings designed to protect Tor Bay’s seagrass meadows.

The new boat moorings are the first of their kind in Tor Bay and have been installed at Fishcombe Cove.

Since January 2020 Valeport has supported the #SaveOurSeagrass campaign, which is run by conservation charity, Wild Planet Trust. The support from Valeport has helped enable a dedicated group of volunteer divers to monitor the Tor Bay seagrass beds to determine the best place for moorings and survey the health of these seagrass meadows.

Seagrass is a remarkable plant as it is able to lock in CO2 more efficiently than rainforests. Seagrass meadows, such as those in Tor Bay, are a crucial part of the marine eco-system, protecting our shores and helping to combat climate change.

Seagrass is the only group of flowering plants that can live in seawater. Producing flowers, pollen, and seeds while submerged. They can spread across large areas and create the appearance of an underwater meadow full of a huge diversity of species. The ecological importance of seagrass as a habitat is widely recognised and it’s even protected by law in many countries. It plays a huge role in carbon capture and coastal protection.

The meadows in Tor Bay are a vital nursery bed for young fish and home to both the UK seahorse species, the spiny and short-snouted seahorse. Shallow, sheltered coastal bays provide ideal conditions for the growth of seagrass meadows, but for this reason they are also attractive mooring and anchorage sites for boating communities.

Both boat anchors and traditional mooring systems have a detrimental impact on seagrass. Anchors pull up the seagrass roots and mooring chains move across the seabed with the changing tides and currents scouring the seabed of life, resulting in immense damage to the habitat.

Although the seagrass areas in Tor Bay are voluntary no-anchoring zones, Wild Planet Trust is actively looking to encourage water enthusiasts and boat users to respect the seagrass by not anchoring at the known seagrass locations and use these new permitted moorings.

“Anchoring in the wrong place damages the seagrass and threatens the wildlife that live amongst it” said Dr Tracey Hamston, Conservation Officer at Wild Planet Trust. “We are delighted to introduce these new moorings which will enable boat users to moor up, whilst protecting the seagrass below.”