Falmouth and Ocean Conservation Trust raising awareness of sensitive marine habitats

Sensitive marine habitats of seagrass and maerl have been marked using buoys by Falmouth Harbour with the Ocean Conservation Trust and their main partners Plymouth Gin.
Above the water a clear line of new yellow marker buoys show watercraft in Falmouth Harbour and Bay where sensitive areas of seabed are located. Seagrass is deemed a wonder-plant, vital for marine life which depends on its meadows for food and shelter and vital to the health of seas and the environment as it captures carbon up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests.
Yet a study by University College London estimates at least 44 per cent of the UK’s seagrass has been lost since 1936 with pollution, mining and farming as well as dredging, bottom trawling, anchoring and coastal development all contributing to the decline.
Seagrass. Image: Paul Naylor
“Boats anchoring over seagrass and maerl beds have a physical impact,” says Falmouth Harbour’s environment manager Vicki Spooner, “and since the vast majority of marine leisure users want to do their bit to protect the environment, we hope the new marker buoys will raise awareness of where the sensitive areas are.
“The new yellow buoys replace the seasonal marks on the water and have the dual impact of delineating to vessels where other activities are taking place as well as the sensitive seabeds. Specifically, along Falmouth’s Swanpool, Gyllyngvase and Castle beaches they will show where swimmers, kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders – are likely to be active and mark the 4-knot limit. These additional buoys should really help with managing safety in Falmouth Bay.”
Mark Parry from the OCT said: “We are delighted to be working with Falmouth Harbour and Plymouth Gin on what is the first of a number of seagrass protection and regeneration schemes the Ocean Conservation Trust has planned for this year. As part of our holistic approach, we will also be monitoring the biodiversity within the seagrass and maerl beds, taking a baseline measurement at the start and measuring the impact over the 3 year project. Our aim is to protect 700 Ha of UK seagrass over the next five years.”
Toni Ingram, Global Brand Director for the project’s sponsors, Plymouth Gin, said: “We are proud to be partnering once again with the Ocean Conservation Trust to help protect and regenerate such valuable habitats in Falmouth Harbour and Bay. The ocean is integral to Plymouth Gin’s history, having been hand-crafted on the South West Coast in England’s oldest working gin distillery since 1793.”
Falmouth Harbour CEO Miles Carden said: “This important project will help Harbour users to understand where the Seagrass is and start a conversation about how we can change behaviours to help Seagrass thrive: we hope marking the areas of seagrass and maerl will encourage harbour users to approach us with ideas on how we can continue to enjoy our beautiful environment whilst reducing impacts on sensitive ocean habitats that we know are a really valuable asset to us all. I must also thank Plymouth Gin for their support sponsoring this important initiative: their foresight has made this possible.”

For guidance on anchoring and general good practice for leisure users at sea, visit https://thegreenblue.org.uk/you-your-boat/info-advice/wildlife-habitats/anchoring-with-care/. For detailed information on the work and services of Falmouth Harbour, including updates and FAQs on this and other environmental initiatives see Protect our Harbour – Falmouth Harbour, Cornwall or call the Falmouth Harbour team on 01326 213537.

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