Credit: Rosie Sherwood

Seagrass is one of the ocean’s most important habitats, a nursery ground for commercial fish stocks and haven for marine animals. Seagrass also stabilises sediments, prevents coastal erosion, and has capacity to sequester carbon more efficiently than terrestrial habitats – making it an important player in the fight against climate change. Due to human activity, Seagrass is a critically endangered EU Red Listed habitat. Restoration currently relies on limited grant funding and donations. Emerging carbon markets represent a possible new source of income, potentially unlocking restoration at national scale. Plymouth’s experience provides a unique foundation from which to develop and test new sources of sustainable finance for seagrass. A partnership consisting of Plymouth City Council, Ocean Conservation Trust, University of Plymouth, with the support of Finance Earth, is seeking to evaluate the investment case for a pilot seagrass restoration project, with a focus on carbon as the primary source of revenue. This applied approach will be used to develop the principles of a pilot carbon code to catalyse national efforts. 
Plymouth Sound is well suited for this work as one of the most studied UK waters - and a centre of ocean excellence. Home of OCT, 3 Marine Research Plymouth and the UK’s first National Marine Park (NMP). As partners in the EU LIFE REMEDIES program, Plymouth City Council (PCC), OCT and Plymouth University (UoP) have a proven track record of delivering restoration.

As an Earth Scientist I research short and long term impacts of climate change on the oceans at both modern and geological timescales. Bringing a geological perspective to this Blue Carbon project has been amazing, and using high resolution techniques to image, assess, measure and analyse the contribution of sea grass to blue carbon stock has been very rewarding. We have been able to pilot new methods for analysing blue carbon at our labs here in Plymouth, and I look forward to exploring further how our research can contribute more to the understanding of carbon stocks in the ocean, seagrass restoration projects, and carbon sequestration on longer timescales.

Jodie FisherJodie Fisher
Technical Specialist

Jodie Fisher examining an item in a laboratory

There is much interest in the capacity of seagrass beds to store carbon, with variable data being provided from within UK seagrass bed. The aim of this work is to collect high-resolution data on carbon values from 3m cores taken within and outside of seagrass beds in Plymouth Sound. This will, for the first time, show the detailed pattern of carbon storage with depth under a seagrass bed and, by aging the core, provide information on the rate of storage of carbon that will be essential for assessing the viability of seagrass beds for carbon investment.

Martin AttrillMartin Attrill
Professor of Marine Ecology