Solent – Seagrass
Seagrass is a flowering plant that grows in the sea. It is more closely related to plants on land than to seaweed.
Horizontal roots connect plants together to form a mat on the seafloor.
It forms dense underwater meadows in sheltered coastal areas with gentle currents.
There is around 3.8 kilometers squared of seagrass in the Solent Maritime Special Area of Conservation.
Our seagrass habitats are in decline due to water quality and disturbance.
What does seagrass do for us?
Seagrass takes up carbon for growth and stores large quantities in its roots. It is globally important for its potential to mitigate climate change.
Each year seagrass in the Solent stores the amount of carbon produced by return ferries from Southampton to Cowes on the Isle of Wight for 242,000 car passengers
Sediment and nutrient removal
Seagrass meadows act as filters trapping sediment, nutrients and pollutants in their root structure and dramatically improving water quality.
Every year Solent seagrass removes 2 Olympic swimming pool’s worth of sediment and excess nutrients from the water.
Seagrass provides a home, place to reproduce and a safe nursery for many species, including some rare and endangered ones.
4 fish species reproduce in the Solent seagrass.
6 fish species use the Solent seagrass as a nursery.
Food from wild caught fish
Healthy seagrass supports many commercial species, ensuring a continuing supply of the fish we eat.
30% of wild caught fish species in the Solent are associated with seagrass.
Human happiness and wellbeing
Clear, clean seas rich in biodiversity provide greater opportunities for recreational activities and other benefits for people’s happiness and wellbeing.
How can we help seagrass in the Solent?
Voluntary no access zone
Seagrass is much more easily damaged when walked on than grass on land.
Avoiding walking, digging and dragging watersports equipment through the seagrass is key to protecting it.
Voluntary no anchor zone
Each anchoring by a boat can potentially dislodge 4 seagrass plants
In popular anchoring areas, this could damage a significant area of the seagrass bed over time
Advanced mooring systems
Traditional swing moorings damage large areas of seagrass as the chain scours the seabed. Advanced moorings avoid this.
1 swing mooring stops the carbon equivalent of 3 return car journeys from Portsmouth to Southampton being stored each year.
ReMEDIES is planting 40,000m2 of seagrass in the Plymouth Sound & Estuaries Special Area of Conservation.
10,000m2 of healthy seagrass stores the same amount of carbon a year as return trips on the Portsmouth to Cowes Ferry for 643 car passengers.
ReMEDIES project information
Reducing and Mitigating Erosion and Disturbance Impacts affecting the Seabed.
The LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES project (LIFE18 NAT/UK/000039) is financially supported by LIFE, a financial instrument of the European Commission.
The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Natural England and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union.