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28-05-2021

Ecological traits for Sustainable Development

Project Seagrass

United Nations / Ocean Science & Technology / Ocean Policy & Sustainable Development / Donors & Foundations

Seagrass ecological traits help support small-scale fisheries

Project Seagrass has published new research in the Frontiers Research Topic "Sustainable Development Goal 14 - Life Below Water: Towards a Sustainable Ocean" that links seagrass ecological traits to abundant fish populations that support small-scale fisheries across the Indo-Pacific Ocean.


Seagrass meadows provide key habitat for diverse and abundant faunal assemblages and support numerous ecosystem functions and services that are vital to Sustainable Development and meeting the SDGs more broadly. However, not all seagrass is created equal and its vital to know which seagrass is important for meeting certain goals, for example, support for healthy small-scale fisheries.

The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development mandates for solution orientated science and management that balances biodiversity conservation with the needs of local people. The aspects of seagrass diversity that are key to sustaining biodiversity, and thus ecosystem services, remain unclear in general and for the ‘hyper-diverse’ seagrass meadows within the Indo-Pacific Ocean in particular. This is especially pressing when we consider the multiple threats facing seagrass. 
"Its vital that we know which species offer the most returns when investing in management to meet Sustainable Development" says lead author Benjamin Jones, Director of International Operations for Project Seagrass

The research, published in Frontiers in Marine Science, found that seagrass meadows that offered the most support to fish targeted by small-scale fisheries were characteristically long leafed and in deeper water up to around 5m.  If conserving high value species that support adjacent fisheries is the priority for protecting seagrass meadows, then seagrass areas should be chosen with high cover and structural complexity that are in deeper waters.

"In short, the bigger the better. Protecting larger seagrass species, in terms of their length, provides much more benefits for fish than smaller seagrass species. Especially the fish that are important for small-scale fishers for both food and income."

You can download the open access research here

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