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Coastwatch Fight to Save Vital Native Species Continues

15th September 2021
According to CoastWatch, Seagrass is on the decline in many protected areas around the Irish coast. More needs to be done to halt further losses, properly protect inshore ecosystems and find areas to restore carbon and biodiversity-rich seagrass beds According to CoastWatch, Seagrass is on the decline in many protected areas around the Irish coast. More needs to be done to halt further losses, properly protect inshore ecosystems and find areas to restore carbon and biodiversity-rich seagrass beds Credit: CoastWatch-twitter

A natural marine resource more important than the rain forests is in danger of dying out unless funding is provided to help protect it.

Zostera Marina is a type of seagrass which grows in the inshore areas of south Wexford, it supports biodiversity, cleans the surrounding water and helps take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. However, local seagrass habitats are under threat from the invasive species Sargassum muticum, or ‘wire weed’, which stunts its growth and eventually kills it.

Mick Berry of Coastwatch and local environmentalist Karin Dubsky invited members of the public and government officials to St Patrick’s Bridge in Kilmore Quay to highlight the importance of seagrass and the urgent need to safeguard its future. “England has already lost 92 per cent of its sea grass and Ireland’s levels are patchy, we don’t know how much is left,” said Mick. “We need to map it around the coast of Wexford and identify where it might be. People don’t know what it looks like, even the people living here in Kilmore, they get it mixed up with green algae. At the moment no one is doing anything to preserve it, there’s a lot of red tape holding everything up.”

As a coastal county, Wexford is at the forefront of this fight to protect this vital plant. “Seagrass is one of the top plants for sequestering ocean carbon, its way ahead of the rain forest, it’s so important and it’s right on our doorstep, there’s lots of it in Wexford,” explained Mick. “We’re pushing for funding so we can go out and find it. But we need divers to go and look for it in certain areas, the government department should be doing this not us, we’re doing it out of love.” 

Salvation may yet be at hand in the form of the new Maritime Area Planning Bill which is currently before the Oireachteas and includes plans to give local authorities a role in managing inshore coastal areas. It was published on June 29 and coincided with the launch of the National Marine Planning Framework, Ireland’s first national framework for managing marine activities.

Wexford People has more. 

Published in Coastal Notes
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Coastal Notes Coastal Notes covers a broad spectrum of stories, events and developments in which some can be quirky and local in nature, while other stories are of national importance and are on-going, but whatever they are about, they need to be told.

Stories can be diverse and they can be influential, albeit some are more subtle than others in nature, while other events can be immediately felt. No more so felt, is firstly to those living along the coastal rim and rural isolated communities. Here the impact poses is increased to those directly linked with the sea, where daily lives are made from earning an income ashore and within coastal waters.

The topics in Coastal Notes can also be about the rare finding of sea-life creatures, a historic shipwreck lost to the passage of time and which has yet many a secret to tell. A trawler's net caught hauling more than fish but cannon balls dating to the Napoleonic era.

Also focusing the attention of Coastal Notes, are the maritime museums which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of historical exhibits for future generations.

Equally to keep an eye on the present day, with activities of existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector and those of the energy exploration industry.

In addition Coastal Notes has many more angles to cover, be it the weekend boat leisure user taking a sedate cruise off a long straight beach on the coast beach and making a friend with a feathered companion along the way.

In complete contrast is to those who harvest the sea, using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety poses an issue, before they set off to ply their trade at the foot of our highest sea cliffs along the rugged wild western seaboard.

It's all there, as Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied to the environment from which they came from and indeed which shape people's interaction with the surrounding environment that is the natural world and our relationship with the sea.

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