Sea Grass Hope Spot, China
In 2018, Ocean Recovery Alliance aligned with a local NGO, Qingdao Marine Ecology Research Society (QMCS) in the south east section of the Bohai Sea of China to support their efforts in creating the Caofeidian Seagrass Beds Marine Protected Area, an important ecosystem which needs further support and conservation. We are proud to announce that as a result, this became the first Hope Spot for China, as part of Dr. Sylvia Earle's global program for creating new and important protected areas of the ocean around the world. Thanks to this recognition, and subsequently with the introduction and support from the Swire Group Charitable Trust, a full report was conducted on the values and benefits of this ecosystem, which will help improve the potential for its protection and the fisheries around it. The report can be seen on the link below.
It is recognised that seagrass beds provide habitats and nursery grounds for various marine organisms. This is particularly important to maintain the commercial seafood industry. Collected seagrass samples from Dr. Liu’s study also revealed that algae and plankton were found on seagrass leaf blades and in the water column, providing a good source of food for fish, shrimp, and shellfish.
The economic benefits of seagrass include:
• Over 20 species of commercially valuable fish, crustaceans and molluscs inhabit the Caofeidian seagrass beds, most of them being juveniles (Wang, S. pers. comm.).
• The seagrass areas are estimated to sustain commercially important finfish numbering around 40 million individuals (Wang, S. pers. comm.)
• Globally, seagrass serve as fish nurseries which is important to sustain commercially important fish species (Sanger, P. 2013) as well as maintaining ecosystem function and structure.
• Seagrass can help in carbon sequestration (~USD 394/ha/yr via economic valuation) (Dewsbury et al. 2016).
It is also known that Caofeidian’s coastal area is under great economic development pressure, while the commercial and artisanal fishing industries also need to be sustained (see the chapter on Threats Analysis)............
Photo credits: Prof. LIU Hui (刘慧）, Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute of Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences