Volunteer recreational fishers and divers have worked tirelessly for another year to restore the lost seagrass meadows of Cockburn Sound, as their Seeds for Snapper project ends with a record haul.
This year, volunteers collected well over 1 million seagrass fruits which are set to be dispersed back into the local snapper spawning ground to restore vital fishery habitat.
Senior Program Manager at OzFish Unlimited, Andrew Mathews, says the work that was achieved this year will go a long way to re-establish the seagrass meadows that have been lost in this area.
“Volunteer divers collected a total of 1,184,324 fruit that have an approximate weight of 1.84 tonnes. After four years of restoration, it is a record,” said Andrew.
“A total of 375,000 seeds were returned to the ocean where they are expected to grow and eventually establish into new seagrass meadows.
“Cockburn Sounds has lost over 80% of its seagrass meadows, which are vital habitats and nursery areas for countless marine organisms and targeted rec fishing species such as calamari, blue swimmer crabs, western rock lobster, whiting, herring, and of course pink snapper,” said Andrew.
During the two-month-long restoration program, well over 300 volunteers participated in 42 individual dive events at Woodman Point beach just south of the port city of Fremantle.
Across 50 days, divers and their support team helped collect the fruit by hand and brought them to shore where they were placed in agitated saltwater tanks until the fruit was ready to drop their seed. This seed was then carefully sorted, cleaned and ready for dispersing in areas experiencing habitat loss.
“None of this restoration work could have been achieved without the passion and commitment of the local community,” said Andrew.
“Over the last 8 weeks, volunteers have generously given well over a thousand hours of their time to achieve the largest seagrass fruit collection ever undertaken in Australia.
“Projects like this just go to show what can be achieved when people get together with a common goal of restoring marine habitats,” said Andrew.
OzFish Unlimited has partnered with numerous organisations to help restore these meadows including the WA Government through their Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, University of Western Australia (UWA), Recfishwest, Adreno Dive and Kwinana Industry Council with support from BCF – Boating, Camping, Fishing.
If you would like to know more about the project, or get involved contact 1800 431 308 or drop us a comment on social media!