Ports of Jersey starts project to restore seagrass in St Catherine’s Bay

From Port of Jersey
4th July 2022

Ports of Jersey has initiated a project to protect the largest site of seagrass around Jersey’s coastline. Seagrass is recognised for its blue carbon, calculated to absorb carbon 35 times more than tropical rainforests.

The bay of St Catherine’s supports a wealth of marine life. One of significant importance is the seagrass beds that have established in the area. Not only does seagrass act as an important nursery habitat for many species, provide coastal protection and help oxygenate the ocean, it also is a key element for carbon sequestration (a natural or artificial process by which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and held in solid or liquid form). With climate change becoming a more urgent issue, the protection and restoration of habitats such as this are vital to help minimise warming caused by C02 in the atmosphere.

Ports of Jersey has established a working group with Government of Jersey Marine Resources officers, users of the bay, Jersey Marine Conservation, and the Blue Marine Foundation, with the aim of protecting this special and biodiverse rich habitat allowing the seagrass meadow to flourish, not just for the here and now, but for future generations.

Louise Stafford, Projects and Environment Manager at Ports of Jersey, is overseeing the project. She said, “We want to protect the marine environment within the deep-water site in a way that will be beneficial for everyone. One way we are hoping to do this is through the fair and adaptable administration of moorings within the deep-water site.

“Studies have highlighted that traditional mooring systems and anchoring cause significant damage to the seagrass and erosion to the seabed by the mooring chain. To help us monitor the effects, we removed unused moorings in the area. We then asked Jersey Marine Conservation to establish the extent of the damage caused and study the progress of the seagrass re-establishing within these areas.”

Emily Dow, Science and Education Officer for Jersey Marine Conservation, is analysing the seagrass at St Catherine’s Bay as part of her MSc dissertation project from the Jersey International Centre of Advanced Studies (JICAS). She said, “Despite challenging diving conditions, Jersey Marine Conservation has completed initial dive surveys across sites where the moorings have been decommissioned and removed by Ports of Jersey. Data has been gathered on the size of the damaged seagrass areas, density of the surrounding seagrass beds, including average leaf lengths and leaf numbers per shoot. The regrowth rate in these areas will be monitored by dive surveys and supported by aerial footage and underwater towed videos. This will demonstrate the rate of seagrass recovery we can expect to see when a mooring chain is not impacting the seabed.”

The next stages of the project are to look at the management of the moorings, which will start this week with the help of the users of the bay, and trialling different mooring designs to study their impact on the seabed.

Port of Jersey