A regional and international framework for evaluating seagrass management and conservation

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Abstract


Seagrass meadows provide a range of key ecosystem services that are of high economic and societal value; seagrass meadows enhance biodiversity, provide food security through fisheries support, and are increasingly recognised for the role they play in mitigating climate change by the process of carbon sequestration. Whilst there is an increasing understanding of the global significance of seagrass habitats, the extent of these habitats is declining globally. The requirement to implement effective seagrass conservation and management strategies is thus becoming increasingly important. If the ambitions of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved, then nations need ambitious and applicable marine conservation plans. This includes management and protection to vulnerable ecosystems such as seagrass meadows. This study aims to evaluate a range of seagrass management and conservation approaches identified in different geographic regions, using a critique framework developed from the United Nations Environment Programme 2020 report on seagrass “Out Of The Blue: The Value Of Seagrasses To The Environment And To People’. Using the framework, seagrass management in Scotland is used as a case study and compared nationally to the rest of the UK (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and internationally, to Europe (Wadden Sea), Australia (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park) and West Africa (Senegal). The results identify potential areas of development in Scotland to enhance its seagrass conservation effort, including increased research in seagrass science, widespread mapping of seagrass, long-term monitoring programmes, improved marine protected areas, inclusion of seagrass protective measures into environmental laws and policies and the implementation of appropriate habitat restoration schemes. The results also identify the need for open data if effective knowledge sharing is to take place, and to ensure that ocean science can fully support countries to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105306
JournalMarine Policy
Early online date8 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022

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