Protect China’s seagrass meadows

China’s threatened seagrass meadows: scientists call for Seagrass Conservation and Restoration Plan

Seagrass meadows are crucial coastal habitats that contribute to biodiversity, food security, and climate mitigation.

However seagrasses, once common along China’s coastlines, have declined by more than 80% of the seagrass meadows in China’s coastal waters and six seagrass species have disappeared. Even the remaining seagrass meadows are now in decline, and in August 2022 the dugong, a seagrass browser, became functionally extinct in Chinese marine waters.

China has taken steps to protect and restore marine and coastal ecosystems, including seagrasses. However urgent action is needed to maintain and protect the remaining seagrass meadows.

In a recent Letter to Science a team of Chinese and Australian scientists have called for the establishment of a China seagrass conservation and restoration plan with goals and actions at both national and local scales and is authored by researchers from the Third Institute of Oceanography, the Key Laboratory of Marine Ecological Conservation and Restoration, the Hainan Academy of Ocean and Fisheries Sciences, China’s Ministry of Natural Resources.

The scientists say that such coordinated action would help support the Wuhan Declaration of the Convention on Wetlands, adopted in November 2022, which calls for priority conservation and management of vulnerable ecosystems, including seagrass meadows, and deliver on the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which encourages the active restoration of billions of hectares of ecosystems worldwide, including seagrasses.

Source: Jianguo Du, Bin Chen, Ivan Nagelkerken, Shiquan Chen, Wenjia Hu (2023) Protect seagrass meadows in China’s waters. SCIENCE Vol 379, Issue 6631, 2 Feb 2023. p. 447. DOI:10.1126/science.adg2926