Published: 10 April 2017
An eco-friendly mooring recently installed in Fishcombe Cove in Brixham by Sea Torbay, in partnership with Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust and the National Marine Aquarium, has this weekend been impacted by suspected vandalism. The eco-mooring project, spearheaded by Sea Torbay, a volunteer group of marine stake holders, is designed to provide local boat users with an alternative to anchoring, helping to preserve the coast’s unique seagrass meadow.
The damage was noticed by the Aquarium’s CSI Torbay Project Officer, Rachel Cole. Upon descending down from the surface buoy, she noticed a lack of orange buoys on the chain which keep the chain buoyant and off the seabed to reduce damage. Where there are supposed to be 14 buoys, only two remain attached. The rope connecting the buoys to the chain had been cut and the removal of the buoys has now caused the chain to sit on the seabed.
Mark Parry, Community Seagrass Initiative Plymouth Project Manager at the National Marine Aquarium, said: “Fishcombe Cove is a very popular anchoring site for boat users, but most are unaware that there is a seagrass meadow at the surface. Seagrass beds are a feature of the Marine Conservation Zone of Torbay and are very sensitive to anchoring damage. This mooring buoy is a trial to see if boat users would moor up instead of anchor, therefore reducing the damage to the seagrass.
“It is distressing for all involved in the project to learn that the buoys may have been deliberately sabotaged, which is a major setback to the work being carried out to support our local ocean habitats. We will work as hard as possible to ensure that the buoys are reinstated. The community-focused project has been funded by Natural England and we rely on charitable donations to support projects such as this. We would encourage anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity to get in touch.”
The eco-friendly moorings are part of the National Marine Aquarium’s Community Seagrass Initiative, a pioneering citizen science project. Covering the 191 mile stretch of coastline from Looe in Cornwall, to Weymouth in Dorset, it will look to find out more about native seagrass and help to conserve their fragile eco-systems. The aim is to engage coastal communities with their special marine habitats to raise awareness and promote conservation. Everyone from school children, sailors, canoeists, divers, kayakers and even internet users can get involved and help collect vital data that will aid the mapping and surveying of seagrass meadows along the south coast.
Seagrass is one of the world’s only marine flowering plants, which creates large meadows in shallow waters on sandy seabeds. There are many seagrass meadows, or beds, around the South West of the UK including the West coast of Scotland and North Wales. The meadows act like an underwater rainforest, providing shelter for all sorts of marine species, on an otherwise featureless seabed. Seagrass meadows are home to some of the most charismatic species in the UK such as seahorses and cuttlefish, and act as a nursery ground for commercial fish species. They can also improve water quality and stabilise sediments, reducing coastal erosion.