4 Examples of Seagrass Conservation (and Ocean Farming) Across the Globe

Patagonia Films For the Love of the Sea

Discover the captivating world of seagrass conservation and ocean farming through Patagonia’s remarkable film series. From the misty shores of Scotland to the sun-kissed coasts of Portugal, these four films transport us to global marine ecosystems teeming with life. 

Seagrass meadows, often overlooked but vital to our planet, serve as essential habitats and carbon sinks. Patagonia’s films highlight the urgent need for preservation and sustainable practices. Join us as we delve into these thought-provoking stories, inspiring change and showcasing the interconnectedness between land, sea, and a sustainable future.

The Custodians

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Over the last 40 years, commercial overfishing and bottom trawling have turned Scotland’s once-thriving west coast waters into sparse, lifeless deserts. Patagonia Films’ The Custodians follows the work of four locals from the West Coast of Scotland who are reclaiming their natural coastlines. They’re restoring wildlife, creating sustainable industries, and showing us how we can work with, not against, our ocean.

The film discusses the importance of marine habitat restoration and the need for better sea management to protect biodiversity. It highlights the decline in fish stocks due to destructive fishing practices. And it emphasizes the significance of seagrass meadows in filtering water, sequestering carbon, and providing a habitat for marine life.

The video also mentions removing the three-mile limit for trawling and dredging in Scotland in 1984, which led to the collapse of fish stocks. Efforts are being made by organizations like Seawilding to restore seagrass and involve communities in marine conservation.

Scotland’s Seagrass Conservation Facts 

  • Despite being essential for ecosystems and human survival, the sea is often overlooked regarding its environmental issues.
  • Destructive fishing practices, such as bottom trawling and dredging, have depleted fish stocks and damaged biodiversity.
  • Seagrass meadows are crucial for filtering water, sequestering carbon, and serving as fish nurseries and spawning grounds.
  • Restoring seagrass at scale is challenging, and different methodologies are being trialed to determine the most effective approach.
  • The community-led Seawilding initiative aims to restore marine habitats and improve biodiversity in Scottish sea lochs.
  • The removal of the three-mile limit for trawling and dredging in 1984 led to the collapse of fish stocks and negatively impacted fishermen’s livelihoods.
  •  Protecting Scotland’s seabed is crucial as it is a significant carbon sink, storing more carbon than terrestrial peat, forestry, and soils combined.

For the Love of the Sea

Watch For the Love of the Sea

In Patagonia Films’ For the Love of the Sea, a family pioneers a movement to revive the Welsh coastline and a fishing industry that locals have depended on for decades. The documentary follows Câr y Môr, Wales’s first community-owned regenerative ocean farm. Cultivating versatile crops like seaweed with zero-input techniques, the community reveals the powerful ways that the ocean can help fight climate change while nourishing people in more ways than one.

This video showcases the efforts of a family and their community to revive the oceans through a 3D ocean farm called Câr y Môr. They aim to improve the coastal environment and people’s well-being by growing seaweed, oysters, mussels, and scallops. The ocean farm not only creates habitats and nurseries for marine species but also helps battle climate change by offsetting CO2 and removing excess nutrients from the water.

Seaweed Farming Facts

  • The family and community established Câr y Môr to improve the coastal environment and people’s well-being.
  • Seaweed farming, along with the cultivation of oysters, mussels, and scallops, is a vital component of the ocean farm.
  •  Overfishing has significantly reduced fish populations over the years, emphasizing the need for habitat restoration.
  • The father of one of the family members used to be a bottom trawler fisherman, which caused disturbance and destruction of the seabed.
  • The coastal area used to have a thriving fishing industry but has declined due to diminishing fish stocks.
  • Ocean farms like Câr y Môr offer a sustainable way to grow crops and contribute to various industries such as food, meat, and bioplastics.
  • The long-term goal is to see more ocean farms along the coastlines, working harmoniously with the ecosystem to restore marine life and combat climate change.

Madre Mar

Watch Madre Mar

Raquel Gaspar, a marine biologist and co-founder of Ocean Alive, is dedicated to protecting seagrass meadows in Portugal. Seagrass meadows are vital habitats that benefit the ocean and the planet, including oxygen production, carbon capture, water purification, and shoreline protection. 

Raquel and her team are working to change behaviors and advocate for policies that protect these meadows. They also collaborate with local fisherwomen who rely on the meadows and share a common goal of preservation. However, seagrass meadows face threats from destructive fishing practices and declining water quality, leading to their loss worldwide. Raquel’s mission is to lead Ocean Alive and restore the seagrass meadows while creating new career opportunities for people who depend on the ocean.

Portugal’s Seagrass Conservation Facts

  • Seagrass meadows are the ocean’s most important habitats, covering only 0.02% of the ocean but are responsible for capturing 10% of all the ocean’s carbon dioxide.
  •  Seagrass meadows provide essential benefits, including oxygen production, carbon capture (30x more efficient than land forests), water purification, and shoreline protection.
  •  Destructive fishing practices, such as trawling, threaten seagrass meadows by destroying the plants and releasing the stored carbon.
  • Ocean Alive, a Portuguese NGO, protects seagrass meadows through educational, awareness, scientific, and advocacy programs.
  • Raquel Gaspar, a marine biologist and co-founder of Ocean Alive, studies seagrass meadows and works to save them as rich and alive habitats that support marine life.
  • Fisherwomen who rely on seagrass meadows for their livelihoods collaborate with Ocean Alive in protecting and restoring these vital habitats.
  • Ocean Alive aims to change behaviors and advocate for policy changes to protect seagrass meadows and ensure their preservation for future generations.

Jalpi: The Forgotten Underwater Forests 

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When a devastating accident alters his life forever, Ji Wook-cheol asks, “What should I do for the rest of my life?” His answer is activism. Patagonia Films’ documentary short Jalpi follows the former sailor as he works to protect the critical seabeds—or jalpi—being decimated by industrialization and climate change in his hometown of Tongyeong, South Korea. 

But suppose Mr. Ji wants to regenerate the underwater forests and create a marine protected area that supports local communities. In that case, he’ll have to convince reluctant fishers and rally locals to be the catalysts for change.

This video features Ji Wook-cheol, an advocate for the environmental movement and the protection of marine ecosystems in Tongyeong, South Korea. He emphasizes the importance of learning from experience and taking action to bring about change. Ji Wook-cheol’s efforts have led to establishing marine protected areas and community involvement in cleanup activities.

South Korea Seagrass Conservation Facts

  • Ji Wook-cheol believes in learning from experience and doing to drive change.
  • He reflects deeply on his life direction and dedicates himself to the humanities movement and environmental activism.
  • Tongyeong, Ji Wook-cheol’s hometown, is a coastal town in South Korea known for its diverse marine life and fishing industry.
  • Seagrass forests in Tongyeong have suffered significant damage due to industrialization, urban development, and fishing activities.
  • Seagrass forests are crucial in supporting marine biodiversity, acting as a breeding ground for numerous fish species.
  • Ji Wook-cheol initiates cleanup activities involving local fishermen, promoting community involvement and providing income opportunities.
  • Through his efforts, the government designates Tongyeong’s marine area as the 18th Marine Ecosystem Protection Area, inspiring neighboring villages to pursue similar initiatives.

Patagonia strives to inspire change through these captivating stories, encouraging viewers to recognize their role in preserving our fragile marine ecosystems. By raising awareness about seagrass conservation and sustainable ocean farming, the films aim to ignite a collective passion for protecting our oceans, one of our planet’s most precious resources.

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