Seagrasses are flowering plants that form extensive underwater meadows, transform bare sandy areas into complex 3-dimensional habitats and are an important source of food for a variety of marine fauna. Once impacted, seagrass meadows can take decades to recover.
The need for seagrass rehabilitation is mainly driven by unavoidable loss of seagrass due to human activities including ocean discharges and coastal developments.
BMT Oceanica has an overarching management perspective and experience working on seagrass rehabilitation projects in temperate Western Australia waters for more than a decade, including the highly successful Seagrass Research and Rehabilitation Plan (SRRP). In 2003, the SRRP was established to meet stringent environmental management conditions for two separate industrial development projects in Cockburn Sound that each impacted on seagrass meadows (for Cockburn Cement Ltd and Department of Commerce). The SRRP was aimed at developing and implementing seagrass rehabilitation procedures that are economically feasible and environmentally sustainable. The collaborative project team was coordinated by BMT Oceanica and included three universities, the Kings Park Botanic Gardens and Parks Management Authority, environmental consultants and a marine engineering firm.
The SRRP developed and demonstrated globally significant innovations in regards to the seagrass species and the planting techniques used. The SRRP involved the successful implementation of large-scale manual transplantation techniques with good health and high survival rates. During the SRRP it was confirmed that rehabilitated meadows can develop the same ecological functions as natural meadows, and donor meadows do recover from the harvesting of seagrass. A mechanical extraction and planting tool concept was developed, along with guidelines for rehabilitation. The SRRP clearly demonstrated for the first time that large scale seagrass transplantation, especially in difficult marine environments, is feasible.
Since the SRRP, BMT Oceanica has continued to be involved with management and implementation of seagrass rehabilitation projects.
To ensure that this valuable information can be shared with seagrass managers and researchers in temperate environments worldwide, a “how-to” guide on transplanting Posidonia (a meadow-forming species of seagrass) in temperate Western Australian waters has been jointly prepared by BMT Oceanica, Bastyan & Associates and Murdoch University Marine and Freshwater Research Laboratory.