Seagrass, Zoster marina, also known as common eelgrass, is a protected marine feature, and seagrass meadows are biodiversity hot-spots.
Loch Craignish has ten small seagrass meadows, totalling approx. 1 hectare, and while these seem dense and healthy, they are isolated and fragmented. Yet, according to Project Seagrass which has surveyed twenty-one Scottish seagrass meadows for genetic analysis, Loch Craignish is one of the most suitable restoration sites in Scotland.
Over fifty species of fish have been recorded in one meadow along with hundreds of species of invertebrates such as molluscs, shrimp and marine worms. By providing a 3-dimensional structure in an otherwise barren marine landscape, seagrass provides a vital marine habitat.
Seagrass in Loch Craignish
Seagrass is also an important carbon sink as it sequesters carbon thirty-five times faster than rainforest. However, owing to pollution and disturbance of habitat, 95% of the UK’s seagrass meadows have disappeared (Source: Ocean Seagrass Rescue).
In 2021, working with Project Seagrass, we plan to trial Scotland’s first community-led seagrass restoration at Loch Craignish. The areas selected for restoration will be alongside existing meadows which are either inter-tidal or in very shallow water where there is no risk of dredging, fishing, or anchoring. We will trial a methodology successfully pioneered in Wales. Seagrass is gathered by hand, the seed is processed and dried and then placed in small hessian bags tethered to the seabed where it germinates.