The Recreation ReMEDIES project, led by Natural England, will protect seagrass meadows - a critically endangered EU red listed habitat which can be easily damaged and slow to recover. Seagrass is threatened by anchoring, mooring and launching of recreational boats, as well as trampling from walkers and bait collectors. The project will provide environmentally friendly moorings, voluntary codes, targeted training and habitat restoration, in five areas across southern England, including the Solent.
Responding to the announcement of this new £2.5m project, Tim Ferrero, marine specialist at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, commented: “Seagrass beds are immensely important for both people and wildlife. Not only do they provide a home for a wide range of amazing species - like cuttlefish, seahorse and stalked jellyfish - but they also help tackle the climate emergency through absorbing masses of carbon; they support important local fisheries and help reduce coastal erosion.
"We are really fortunate to have such wonderful seagrass meadows in the Solent, but they are vulnerable to the effects of both industrial and recreational activity. The Solent is one of the liveliest strips of sea in the UK - people come to sail, surf, canoe, fish and swim. We know that so many people love the Solent and want to do more to care for our precious marine environment. The Wildlife Trust is currently working with hundreds of local people and organisations through our National Lottery Heritage Fund marine project, Secrets of the Solent - supporting and encouraging them to help look after our seas. We look forward to expanding on this activity through this exciting ‘Recreation ReMEDIES’ project.”
More details on the new project (taken from Press Release):
The five Marine Protected Areas, set to benefit from the funded project are: the Isles of Scilly, Fal & Helford, Plymouth Sound & Estuaries, Solent Maritime and Essex Estuaries Special Areas of Conservation.
The scheme has been awarded £1.5 million from the EU’s LIFE fund and is the result of more than 12 months of working together with several partner organisations including the Ocean Conservation Trust, Marine Conservation Society, Royal Yachting Association and Plymouth City Council. The other £1 million has been match funded from Natural England and the other partner organisations.
The project, running from July 2019 to October 2023, will be publicly launched at a project workshop at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth tomorrow (30 January) looking at Advanced Mooring Systems that are more gentle on delicate underwater habitats, building on previous wildlife friendly mooring workshops run by the Royal Yachting Association.
The techniques and evidence drawn from Recreation ReMEDIES will be evaluated to measure the conservation benefit and assess how it could be repeated across Europe.
The programme will directly train nearly 2,000 recreational users, helping to:
- collect seed and replant seagrass (a first for England at this scale);
- inspire better care of the seagrass beds by recreational boat users;
- roll-out solutions including advanced mooring systems that are more gentle on delicate underwater habitats.