Fishing conservation charity OzFish Unlimited announced today that South Australia will have its own Seeds for Snapper seagrass restoration project this December and are calling on the community to get involved.
Seagrasses are vital marine plants which are important habitats and nursery areas for countless marine organisms, including the popular fishing catches such as snapper, king george whiting, blue swimmer crabs, king prawns and calamari.
Over 6,000 hectares of seagrass meadows have been lost, this is over a fifth of Adelaide’s metropolitan fishing grounds which has been devastating for the local fisheries ecology.
In December, Posidonia seagrass produces a fruiting body which floats to the sea surface. OzFish are calling on recreational fishers and boat owners to collect the fruit on the sea surface or washed up on shore across Adelaide’s beaches.
The collected fruit will then be processed in tanks until the seed releases and is ready for dispersing in areas experiencing seagrass loss.
OzFish Senior Program manager for SA, Dr Michael Sierp is enthusiastic about what this means for South Australia’s fisheries.
“We’re aiming to collect a million seeds during our first year across Adelaide beaches, which will restore around 1 HA of seagrass meadows. To do this we need many people to help by beachcombing or collecting floating seagrass fruit on the water from their boats” Dr Sierp said.
“By registering, anyone in the community can drop their collected seagrass fruits off to our project partners at the Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia (CYCSA) on designated days (only), where it will be processed by OzFish in a pop-up seawater facility where the seed will be separated.
Seagrass fruit naturally ends up in areas where the water is too deep for sunlight to penetrate, or washed up on the shore where they decay.
“We’re giving the environment a helping hand to ensure these precious seeds get to the right places to restore our marine habitats for fish and better fishing. Volunteers can take an active role in rehabilitating their own fishery.
“This is a dedicated community-based project. We have numerous community groups supporting this project and are grateful to partner with funding from the Green Adelaide Landscape Board and premium marine electronics company NAVICO.
“NAVICO, the makers of B&G, SIMRAD and LOWRANCE electronics have backed the project with corporate funding to get it off the ground,” Dr Sierp said.
The Adelaide project is a replica of the Seeds for Snapper program in Cockburn Sound WA, which is currently in its third year and experiencing a wave of community support and outcomes. The community has been helping disperse millions of seeds into the restoration sites, which have seen a tenfold increase in seedling emergence compared to natural establishment.
The Seeds for Snapper project is being funded by Green Adelaide, NAVICO and BCF – Boating, Camping & Fishing. Other project partners and advisors include the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia (CYCSA), Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA), Estuary Care Foundation (ECF), RecFishSA, and the Environmental Protection Authority-SA.
Volunteers are needed now. To get involved, register to be a volunteer in the Seeds for Snapper project here or call 1800 431 308.