RECREATIONAL fishers, volunteer divers and boaters, school students, and local businesses have come together to deploy one million seagrass seeds in one of Australia’s biggest conservation initiatives.
OzFish Unlimited, Australia’s only recreational fishing conservation group, successfully led ‘Seeds for Snapper’ in Cockburn Sound; the biggest community-driven seagrass restoration initiative in Australia.
This year, the group set its goal high. The target was to harvest seagrass fruit and deploy more than one million seagrass seeds in a bid to help return this lost habitat to the WA coastline. Seagrass meadows are a vital habitat for many fish including pink snapper, popular with fishers in Western Australia.
This year, over 400 OzFish volunteers deployed a record of more than one million seagrass seeds, to reseed two hectares of seagrass meadow. That’s more than the initiative did in its first four years combined and demonstrates the growing effort of volunteers.
Seeds for Snapper is made possible by support from BCF – Boating, Camping, Fishing, and is a collaborative project with the University of Western Australia and RecFishWest. It is supported by the WA Government’s Recreational Fishing Initiative Fund, Water Corporation and MMA Offshore.
Steve Pursell, OzFish Program manager for Western Australia, thanked everyone who had worked together to play a part in achieving such an impressive result.
“The engagement we’ve had from local recreational fishers, divers, boaters and other community members, not to mention our various project partners and funders has been absolutely incredible this year,” said Pursell.
“Not only did we hit our target of one million seeds, but we did it quicker than we anticipated and with record numbers of volunteers. The support and expertise of Water Corporation helped us improve our onshore tank system and increase the ratio of usable seeds from fruit collected.
More information about Seeds for Snapper and OzFish’s many other restoration activities is available at www.ozfish.org.au.
Volunteers were involved through a variety of roles, including as boat netters, qualified scuba and free divers, shore crew, boat masters, and seagrass seed dispersal crew.
The innovative restoration technique developed in collaboration with the University of Western Australia saw volunteers prepare the fruits onshore for replanting in areas primed for restoration. The fruits were prepared in large onshore tanks, designed by Water Corporation.
The seagrass season in Cockburn Sound runs from November each year and Seeds for Snapper will be back in WA for 2023.