PUSAT KAJIAN SAMUDERA & PANTAI -- Universiti Sains Malaysia

SEAGRASS: South East Asia project for General Regional Awareness of Seagrass

SEAGRASS: South East Asia project for General Regional Awareness of Seagrass

The Centre for Marine & Coastal Studies (CEMACS) with the collaboration of Ocean Best Practices Systems (OBPS) held a successful workshop on ‘Best Practices of Seagrass Monitoring’ during the OBPS Workshop IV on 7th October 2022. This workshop aspired to introduce protocols for seagrass monitoring that have been adopted in seagrass areas across different countries. The protocol aims to be part of the ocean best practices system to establish a standardized and comparable data of biodiversity, patterns, and changes to the seagrass area over a wider range of coastal areas. It is intended that through the engagement of regional partners, a unified seagrass mapping, monitoring, and management effort will be developed. This will improve our capacity to integrate data at local, regional, and global levels and strengthen our knowledge and efforts for seagrass conservation, resurgence, and restoration.

The workshop was attended by about 30 participants from across the region and globe. Four esteemed panelists: Dr Masahiro Nakaoka (Hokkaido University), Dr Anchana Prathep (Prince of Songkla University), Dr Miguel Fortes (University of the Philippines) and Dr Aileen Tan (Universiti Sains Malaysia) shared their views, historical accounts, as well as prospects of developing a standardized seagrass monitoring network with data that are comparable. The idea of “Community of Practices” is also important in developing a sustainable and equitable data gathering by researchers, together with the community (eg citizen scientists), through good practices with ethics, respect, and equal rights.

Regular field sampling efforts are being carried out as part of the long-term monitoring changes to the seagrass area at the Middle Bank. Results from these initiatives are being communicated to the general public, international forums, and private stakeholders in an effort to promote resilience and adaptation to climate change, with seagrass and coastal ecosystems playing a key role in potential future solutions. Moreover, long-term environmental studies help us recognize trends and shifting baselines, as well as unusual occurrences and unexpected ecological upsets. These also allow us to better comprehend the natural complexity of the seagrass ecological systems.
Following that, the undergraduate students of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) had the opportunity to share their findings during the 6th International Congress of Fisheries and Aquatic Research (ICFAR) which was held virtually:
  1. Diversity and abundance of macroinvertebrates on the seagrass bed of Enhalus acoroides and its corresponding mudflats at the Middle Bank (Straits of Penang).
  2. Sediment organic content and characteristics at an Enhalus seagrass bed and its corresponding mudflats at the Middle Bank (Straits of Penang).

Contributed by Aileen Tan

References: https://mailchi.mp/96695c599599/pogo-newsletter-issue-50-november-2022?e=6f8a623319#mctoc26

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