The value of seagrass
June 28, 2016
Dugong & Seagrass Conservation Project Technical Advisor
Richard is a marine ecologist based at Swansea University and a founding Director of the conservation charity Project Seagrass. His research focuses on the ecosystem services of seagrass meadows and the factors driving their loss and degradation.
Our global fisheries are critically important for feeding the worlds people, seagrass meadows are essential for enhancing and supporting these fisheries but are under threat the world over.
If you had the opportunity to tell a world leader about seagrass, what would you say? What about a village chief, your mother or my father?
I’d say the same thing to everyone. Our global fisheries are critically important for feeding the worlds people, seagrass meadows are essential for enhancing and supporting these fisheries but are under threat the world over. We need to find ways to stop their decline for the future of our food supply.
Is there a link between people’s health and healthy seagrass?
This certainly is an interesting question but one that if difficult to answer. We understand that many people around the world have a close association between seagrass and their local livelihoods, and by default there economic and food security is linked to seagrass. We suspect that this close association leads to improved health but it’s an area of research that still needs much effort.
If people understand that seagrass is important to them, then there is infinite potential for communities to support seagrass protection.
What is the best way of involving communities in the protection of seagrass?
The best way I believe is to start by ensuring that people understand why seagrass is important to them and their communities. If people understand this then there is infinite potential for communities to support seagrass protection.
Can you tell us more about your experience in Indonesia?
I’ve worked in Indonesia since 2004, mostly in SE Sulawesi where I’ve studied the value of seagrasses for supporting fish communities and consequently for providing support to human food supply. It’s an incredible country full of amazing people and interesting cultures. I continue to work in Indonesia, now in close collaboration with researchers at Hasanuddin University in Makassar with additional sites in the Selayar islands.
Recently at Project Seagrass we’ve developed ‘Seagrass Spotter’, a UK based phone app (Available at the Apple store and on Android)
What kind of tools do you use for seagrass monitoring?
I commonly use Seagrass Watch as a tool for monitoring seagrass but also use other interdisciplinary tools to answer other questions about seagrass. Tools such as Baiter Video cameras for examining fish communities, household interviews for understanding food security. Recently at Project Seagrass we’ve developed ‘Seagrass Spotter’, a UK based phone app (Available at the Apple store and on Android) and website (www.seagrassspotter.org) to enable the general public to contribute information about their local seagrass, we’re currently searching funding opportunities to facilitate the expansion of this project to other parts of the world.