In April 2021, ReMEDIES partner Ocean Conservation Trust (OCT) began our seagrass restoration work across an area of around one hectare in Jennycliff Bay, Plymouth Sound.

This was followed by another half hectare of planting in November 2021, with a further one hectare of planting planned for March 2022. This is part of England’s largest seagrass planting effort, led by ReMEDIES, which aims to restore a total of eight hectares of seagrass meadows – four hectares in Plymouth Sound National Marine Park and four hectares in the Solent Maritime Special Area of Conservation.

Restoration. Photo credit Ocean Conservation Trust
Restoration. Photo credit Ocean Conservation Trust

Seeds for the planting have been gathered from healthy seagrass beds off the Cornish coast and in the Solent. The seed are then are cared for at our purpose-built cultivation facility at the National Marine Aquarium (NMA) in Plymouth.

How does it happen?

Teams of volunteers help us pack the seeds into ethically sourced, sustainable hessian bags which break down naturally on the seabed. We measure between 30 and 50 seeds into each bag.

Planting needs to happen soon after the bags have been packed. The seed bags are loaded onto the Cattewater Harbour Commissioners’ barge and taken out into Jennycliff Bay, to the eastern side of Plymouth Sound. Here they are sent down four-metre-long tubes to make their way onto the seabed to germinate. Bags are dropped approximately one per second, which should mean a spacing of around one bag every 50 centimetres on the seabed. This gives an appropriate density of plants.

Seed bag on seabed. Photo credit Ocean Conservation Trust
Seed bag on seabed/Ocean Conservation Trust

By restoring seagrass in this way, we’re helping to create healthy seagrass meadows that provide habitat for a number of protected species, are important nursery grounds for fish including commercially important species, help stabilise the seabed and reduce coastal erosion, clean surrounding seawater and store and capture significant amounts of carbon.

A voluntary no-anchor zone around the newly planted area is intended to help protect it from physical disturbance from recreational boating. The Queen’s Harbour Master, Plymouth has issued location details for this zone.

Seabed habitats: Restoration and Protection

Watch episode one of our Secrets of the Seabed webinar series led by Ocean Conservation Trust. This first episode focuses on the work ReMEDIES is doing to restore and protect seagrass in five Special Areas of Conservation in southern England.