Sunday, 28 June 2015

Call for more protection for seagrass meadows

By Helen BriggsBBC Environment correspondent

27 June 2015 

Seagrasses - the underwater plants that act as nursery grounds for young fish - need more protection, say scientists.

Monitoring of seagrass meadows off the North Wales coast found areas damaged by the likes of boat moorings, anchors and vehicles crossing at low tide had reduced value to the ecosystem.

Fewer species of fish were found where seagrass was degraded, according to research published in PeerJ journal.

The seagrass studied was near the village of Porthdinllaen, in Gwynedd.

Researchers at Swansea University studied areas with both high and low cover over a 28-hectare stretch of sea bed.

They also sampled fish living in the underwater meadows of flowering plants.

There was a three-fold reduction in the diversity of fish species and invertebrates, such as prawns, shrimp, juvenile cod and juvenile plaice, in areas of low cover, said lead researcher Dr Richard Unsworth.

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