Seagrass meadows of the Indo-Pacific, where up to one billion people are supported by inshore fisheries, are declining as a result of coastal development, deforestation, unsustainable resource use, and environmental degradation. Globally seagrasses occupy around 600,000km2 and account for 12% of total carbon stored in ocean sediments. However, seagrass losses result in a reduced capacity to mitigate climate change as well as losses to economic sectors that are dependent on the extensive ecosystem services that seagrass meadows provide.
Limited data exists on seagrass status, carbon storage capacity and economic value in the region. This information is essential to inform and incentivise effective seagrass conservation. Beyond a better understanding of the role and value of seagrass to tropical marine ecosystems, a coordinated research and decision-making response is needed if effective seagrass management is to occur in the Indo-Pacific.
The overall vision of the project is to improve the conservation of seagrass meadows and the biodiversity they support in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Timor-Leste. By ensuring the continued availability of seagrass ecosystem services, this project aims to safeguard food security and resilience for vulnerable coastal communities affected by climate change. The project pursues this vision through community-specific strategies involving citizen science, policy development, sustainable business innovation, and local engagement and communications. While strategies for each of these pursuits will be tailored to each site, the project ambitions and expected results are consistent across all five countries: by pairing participatory approaches with partner expertise, the project will promote solutions for local engagement and investment that succeed in conserving seagrass meadows.
MRF is one of the two Implementing Partners for this project, administering projects in each of the five countries and providing capacity, technical support, and funding to the National Partners (Save Andaman Network in Thailand; MareCet in Malaysia; Blue Ventures in Timor Leste; YAPEKA Foundation in Indonesia; and C3 and the London Zoological Society in the Philippines). MRF is responsible to the Project Coordination Team based at the CMS-UN Environment Dugong MoU Secretariat, and also acts as a Technical Advisor to the project, providing training and support to the national partners in the use of the CMS Dugong Bycatch questionnaire.
The project is funded by the German Ministry of Environment via their Climate Initiative (BMU/IKI).