Home / Projects / Seagrass Restoration / Seeds For Snapper, Cockburn Sound – Western Australia

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5 million fruits 

collected

1.7 million seeds

dispersed

6 years

of restoration

Since launching in 2018, the scale of OzFish’s achievements in Cockburn Sound has been impressive. Yet, the scale of the challenge remaining is greater still.

 

Seeds For Snapper 2023
Seeds For Snapper 2023

Seeds for Snapper 2023 was highly successful in engaging with the community to actively become involved with seagrass restoration and environmental stewardship. Posidonia australis seagrass fruit density naturally fluctuates from year to year and fruit counts were significantly lower this season compared to previous years. We believe the extreme heat…
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Seeds For Snapper 2022
Seeds For Snapper 2022

The 2022 Seeds for Snapper season marked a remarkable milestone in our mission to restore Cockburn Sound's marine ecosystem. Through tireless efforts and unwavering community support, we achieved unprecedented strides in seagrass restoration. We returned one million seagrass seeds back into Cockburn Sound and they're thriving providing a nurturing haven…
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Seeds for Snapper 2021
Seeds for Snapper 2021

Western Australia’s Cockburn Sound was again the focus of community-driven restoration as fishing conservation charity OzFish launched the Seeds for Snapper 2021 in November. Now in its fourth year, the annual marine restoration program called on the community for help in achieving this year’s goals to replant 1 million seagrass…
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Seeds for Snapper 2020
Seeds for Snapper 2020

In 2020 OzFish's Seeds For Snapper became the largest and longest-running seagrass restoration project in Australia, mobilising hundreds of volunteers to take part in habitat restoration. In 2020 saw the Seeds For Snapper project truly amplify into a world-renowned project, volunteer divers, boaters, and beach lovers came from all over…
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Seeds For Snapper 2019
Seeds For Snapper 2019

In 2019, for the second consecutive year rec anglers and ocean lovers got behind Seeds for Snapper by collecting and spreading seeds to speed seagrass restoration and improve the habitat for pink snapper. While out boating, volunteers have been using hand nets to collect the fruit pods in the Cockburn…
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Seeds For Snapper 2018
Seeds For Snapper 2018

In 2018 OzFish launched Seeds For Snapper. It was a first for Australia which saw hundreds of West Australian recreational fishers take part in a massive effort to restore the lost seagrass meadows of Cockburn Sound for the first time. The program has come in two parts, the first was…
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Why are seagrass meadows so important?

Seagrass meadows are an important nursery ground for countless fish and species of marine life, including pink snapper, King George whiting, herring, Western rock lobster, prawns, squid, and blue swimmer crabs.

Seagrasses also help to stabilise soil and sediment on the ocean floor, helping to protect Australia’s shorelines from erosion and storms. They also store carbon and nutrients, which helps to improve water quality and clarity – a hectare of seagrass stores 35 times more carbon than a hectare of rainforest.

Habitat loss

OzFish’s seagrass restoration activities in Cockburn Sound are making a real difference to the area, one which will be felt for years to come. The work of the OzFish team, volunteers and partners is helping to undo years of abuse and neglect.

More than 85 per cent of seagrass meadows have been lost from Cockburn Sound during the last century.

This has been devastating for native fish populations in the area.

Now, OzFish is leading the effort retore a healthy habitat and support growing numbers of native fish.

Seagrass (Posidonia australis)

Seagrass in the region fruit once a year, with their fruits floating to the ocean’s surface. Many of the fruit get washed ashore or far out to sea, where the seeds cannot germinate.

OzFish volunteers get out on the water to collect the seagrass fruit. This is where our volunteer divers play a key role – without them, the seagrass restoration couldn’t happen.

The fruit is then processed on shore, which involves letting them mature in large tanks.

Then, the seeds are dispersed on the ocean floor at various local sites, throughout Cockburn Sound.

Once the seeds are dispersed, local seagrass experts and OzFish volunteer citizen scientists monitor the area to make sure the seeds are flourishing.

Seeds For Snapper is a community-driven program that is delivering far-reaching benefits for all and its long-term legacy will be a sustainable and healthy ecosystem.

IMAGE: Posidonia seagrass fruit – CREDIT: Rachel Austin, The University of Western Australia

OzFish is leading the way in seagrass restoration around Australian with Seeds for Snapper the most advanced national community-driven program.

LATEST NEWS

11 NOVEMBER 2023 | All systems go as Seeds For Snapper in WA project starts

Everything is in place for Australia’s largest community-driven seagrass restoration project, Seeds for Snapper, to commence next Tuesday at Cockburn Sound. The annual collaboration between OzFish Unlimited and the University of Western Australia is now in its sixth year and tanks have been set up at the project’s headquarters at Cockburn Power Boats Club.  After assessing a range of factors, the research team has decided the time is right for the community to start collecting seeds.  Steve Pursell, OzFish Program Manager – Western Australia, said there may not be as many seagrass fruit ras last year so volunteers may also need to pitch in on the beach to pick up fruits that have been washed ashore.

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8 NOVEMBER 2023 | Daiwa dives in to support seagrass restoration

Daiwa Australia today announced its latest partnership with fishing conservation charity OzFish Unlimited throwing its support behind seagrass restoration in Cockburn Sound, WA. Seeds for Snapper, renowned as the largest community driven seagrass restoration program in Australia is making inroads to restore vital habitat for the beloved pink snapper and numerous other marine species. More than 500 volunteers have registered to help collect 1 million seeds for regeneration this November. In its first-ever initiative, Daiwa is proud to support the Seeds for Snapper Daiwa community afternoon at Cockburn Power Boats Club, from 1-3pm on Saturday, November 25. All recreational fishers are encouraged to join t

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11 OCTOBER 2023 | Why Seeds For Snapper Is A Big Step In Right Direction For Global Issue Of Seagrass Loss

While seagrass loss is a topic that may not be front of mind for many people, it is vitally important in many parts of the world that rely on fishing as a source of food so projects like Seeds for Snapper are a big step in the right direction for this global issue.  University of Western Australia Professor Gary Kendrick delved into the importance of seagrass restoration in an in-depth interview looking below the surface with OzCast, the official podcast of OzFish Unlimited, Australia’s fishing conservation charity. 

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1 SEPTEMBER 2023 | A Million Reasons Why Volunteers Are Needed For Sixth Annual Seeds For Snapper Project

There are a million reasons why Seeds for Snapper is a great way for volunteers to help restore Cockburn Sound’s precious marine ecosystem.  Plans are underway for the sixth annual Seeds for Snapper project in Western Australia, the largest of its kind in Australia which is making unprecedented strides in seagrass rehabilitation.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • 1. What is Seagrass?

    Seagrasses are flowering plants that have evolved to live in the marine environment. Seagrasses are different from seaweeds or algae. Western Australia is home to the largest and most diverse seagrass meadows in the world with up to 26 different species recorded. Seagrasses are an essential part of coastal ecosystems in WA, they provide food and shelter while reducing erosion, oxygenating water and sequestering carbon.

  • 2. What is Posidonia?

    Sometimes called ‘Strap-weed’ or ‘Ribbon-weed’, Posidonia australis is a large species of seagrass that has long, blade-like leaves and can grow up to 1m in length, but typically around 30-60 cm.

    Posidonia australis forms a dense canopy that is important for sheltering many marine animals, particularly juvenile snapper, King George whiting and blue swimmer crabs.

    Posidonia australis also plays host to a diverse range of small organisms called epiphytes (plants) and epifauna (animals) living in microhabitats and grazing on the leaves, stems and root systems. These organisms are in themselves important contributors to the overall productivity of seagrass meadows and, due to their rapid growth, can be useful indicators of the nutrient loading in the water column. Even in a decomposing state, seagrass leaf litter (now known as detritus) comprises the main diet for many marine species.

    It can form large, dense stands (called meadows), and is also often found mixed with other species of seagrass such as Amphiblous (Wireweed), Zostera (eelgrass) and Halophila (paddleweed). The expansion of meadows of Posidonia australis occurs primarily by the lateral (sideways) growth of the rhizomes. Sexual reproduction is via the production of flowers (male and female reproductive organs on the same plant) that are pollinated underwater. Posidonia australis fruits in November and December in WA and the floating fruits are distributed by currents before splitting open to expose the seed.

    Researchers from our project partners at UWA recently proved that an individual Posidonia australis plant growing in Shark Bay is the world’s largest organism. This 4500-year-old plant covers 200 sq km and grew from a single seed. Imagine the difference 1 million seeds can make!

  • 3. How do I collect fruit?

    Diving is the primary method of fruit collection we use. If you are a qualified scuba or free diver, you can register for our regular collection days during the season once you have completed the sign-up process. Dive collections involve swimming down to the shallow seagrass beds and picking the ripe fruit from the plants. Fruit can also be collected from your boat and dropped off at a designated drop-off point at the Cockburn Boat Ramp. To find out more details about boat collections contact seedsfrosnaapper@ozfish.org.au.

  • 4. What happens to the fruit after I hand them over?

    Fruit dropped off at the designated site in Cockburn will then be put into tanks where fruit will be put through a process to speed the natural seed release.

    Seawater is constantly pumped through the tank system to agitate the fruit. The elevated and stable temperature combined with the agitation promotes rapid splitting of fruit in a process known as dehiscing. It simulates the seed at the ocean surface in the sunlight and being agitated by waves. Seeds sink to the bottom of the tank while the fruit husk remains at the surface for 24-48 hours.

    Because the fruit and seed separate, we can collect pure seed from the tank bottom. If we wait too long, then the fruit degrades and sinks to the tank bottom, and it is a time-consuming process to separate seeds from the fruit.

  • 5. How is the number of seeds determined?

    Once we have separated split fruit from seeds, pure seeds are counted using a water displacement method. This method works on the premise that a known quantity of seeds displaces a volume of water. For example, we initially count out 1000 seeds into a container that contains a known volume. This container has graduated volume marks, so we know the volume before we put seeds in.

    Once 1000 seeds have been added we can determine how much water volume has been displaced by this quantity of seeds. We repeat this process 3 times to get an average volume of water displacement. Once we know this average volume, we can then add seed until this displacement volume has been reached without counting the seeds and get a good estimate of the number of seeds.  This results in a rapid and relatively accurate count, and we can easily scale this up to count seeds in larger batches.

  • 6. How can I help seed restoration sites from my boat?

    OzFish will be stationed at the Cockburn boat ramp on certain days throughout the season handing out seeds for distribution, where we will provide you with GPS location for the restoration sites. To find out what days we will be distributing seed join the ‘Seeds for Snapper WA Volunteers’ group on Facebook where we provide regular updates through the season.

    To get involved please register your details with the SEEDS FOR SNAPPER – Western Australia project.

This project was made possible thanks to a long-standing partnership with the University of Western Australia and our major partner BCF – Boating, Camping, Fishing.

Seeds For Snapper in WA would not be possible without the support from corporate, community and philanthropic partners who are invaluable in contributing to the work of OzFish in the community.