Seagrass restoration trial on track to deliver big wins for fishing in Hobart 


The Tasmanian seagrass team. Photo Credit: OzFish Unlimited.

Researchers from the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) are on track to determine the best methods for seagrass restoration in Southern Tasmania, thanks to its collaboration with fishing conservation charity OzFish Unlimited.

Researchers have spent the past twelve months testing various restoration techniques, including seed bags, plugs, sprigs and direct injection seeding. These methods have been deployed at sites in Ralphs Bay and the Derwent Estuary in Hobart to find the best one for the local environment.

The outcome could significantly boost biodiversity and fish production in the region. Early signs are promising and will be a major step in the right direction towards replenishing lost meadows.

“Initial results show plugs work at two of the three restoration sites, but they are less feasible for large-scale restoration efforts,” said IMAS PhD candidate, Kelsie Fractal, who is studying seagrass restoration.

“We’re closely watching the performance of seed-based methods this spring.”

Seagrass habitats in Tasmania, notably in the Derwent Estuary, have suffered loss and degradation due to excess nutrient levels.

“Restoration is only now possible thanks to local council initiatives aimed at reducing nutrient pollution in locations such as Ralphs Bay and the Derwent Estuary,” said IMAS marine ecologist and project leader, Dr Beth Strain.

Vere Michiels, OzFish Senior Project Officer, said the Derwent Estuary and Ralphs Bay were popular spots for local anglers and they will hopefully see the benefits of the restoration long into the future.

“This project is an important step towards helping restore Tasmania’s coastal ecosystems,” she said.

“By engaging local communities and applying science-backed approaches, will help inform future restoration.”

Seagrass meadows provide food, shelter, and nursery grounds for juvenile fish, including calamari, flathead and leatherjackets. They also offer invaluable ecosystem services such as water filtration, sediment stabilisation and carbon sequestration.

This is a joint project by OzFish Unlimited and the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies. It is funded by the QBE Foundation climate resilience grant. Additional funds are provided through an Australian Research Council Linkage Project grant awarded to Associate Professor Jeff Wright and Professor Paul Gribben, and a Tasmanian Sustainable Seafood Partnership grant awarded to Dr Beth Strain.  It is also supported through OzFish major partner BCF – Boating, Camping, Fishing.

About OzFish

OzFish Unlimited is a national environmental conservation charity established to improve the health of our rivers, lakes and estuaries. It is a member-based organisation dedicated to make our fishing grounds healthy, vibrant and more productive. Their active work includes; habitat restoration such as resnagging, riverbank planting, clean-ups, fishways, shellfish reefs and educational and community capacity building programs.

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