Seagrass meadows are crucial 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.
A recent Letter to Science calls to establish a 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 Ministry of Natural Resources, and including Professor Ivan Nagelkerken from the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute
This 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.
Citation: Jianguo Du, Bin Chen, Ivan Nagelkerken, Shiquan Chen, Wenjia Hu (2023) Protect seagrass meadows in China’s waters. SCIENCE Vol 379, Issue 6631, p. 447 DOI:10.1126/science.adg2926
Photo: China’s marine and coastline conservation efforts have not reversed the decline of seagrass meadows. Credit: Shiquanh Chen