Creating seagrass pastures anew for Cockburn Sound

Last weekend recfishing families joined Ozfish unlimited – Perth Chapter – at the Cockburn Power Boats Association to take part in an exciting seagrass restoration project called ‘Seeds for Snapper.’

The project aims to reseed Cockburn Sounds Seagrass meadows which support a wide variety of important fish species including whiting, pink snapper, garfish, calamari and blue swimmer crabs.

Cockburn Sound hosts the largest pink snapper spawning aggregations in the west coast bioregion.

Fishers and divers helped with all elements of the project from the seagrass ‘fruit’ (seeds) collection, placing seeds in tanks with circulating seawater to separate the seed and dispersing of the seed in predetermined locations within Cockburn Sound. It is hoped that one million seeds can be processed, potentially restoring 10,000 m2 (1 Ha) of lost seagrass habitat per annum for the next three years.

The Seeds for Snapper Family Seeding Day builds on last year’s Seeds for Snapper project which saw approximately 200,000 Posidonia australis seeds collected and dispersed over three trial-seeding sites. Three months after last year’s seeding activities, establishment and survival of the seagrass seedlings ranged between 6.5 -20 per cent, which is far better than what has been achieved in the past in attempting to establish new Posidonia australis seagrass meadows.

Below you can see the comparison on two dispersal sites.

Recent research has demonstrated that direct seeding into areas of lost seagrass is likely to be the most cost effective method that may one day be scaled-up to make the biggest long-term difference. Read about it here.

The WA community have a close affiliation with Cockburn Sound, with plenty of good work done previously to protect pink snapper stocks, including pushing for an extension to the annual pink snapper seasonal closure in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds and our famous Snapper Guardians initiative. The recfishing community greatly values the Cockburn Sound fishery and it’s great to see recfishers once again stepping up to look after the fish habitats that underpin our great fishing experiences.

Cockburn Sounds Seagrass meadows which support a wide variety of important fish species including whiting, pink snapper, garfish, calamari and blue swimmer crabs.

Cockburn Sound pink snapper and seagrass fact file

Cockburn Sound hosts the largest pink snapper spawning aggregations in the west coast bioregion.

The seagrass meadows of Cockburn Sound are well recognised as critical foraging and nursery grounds for pink snapper and other fish, mollusc and crustacean species.

Cockburn Sound’s seagrass meadows have declined by nearly 80 per cent from 4000ha in the 1960’s to less than 1,000ha today. That’s an area equivalent to 1,840 Optus Stadium football fields of seagrass habitat that has been lost in only a few decades. Important species affected by the seagrass loss include not only pink snapper, but others such as squid, garfish and blue swimmer crabs.

Appreciation of the role seagrass meadows play in providing great fishing opportunities is growing in WA due to increased understanding of the critical link between our seagrass habitats and coastal fisheries.

 

Snapper Fishers Needed to Help Seagrass Reseeding Trial

 

In an Australian first, hundreds of West Australian recreational fishers will be asked to take part in a trial to restore the lost seagrass meadows of Cockburn Sound.

A Community Information Session will be held at the Cockburn Power Boats Club at Woodman Point on 3rd October for people to come down and learn a bit more about this trial.

Cockburn Sound has lost some 80% of its seagrass habitat since the 1960’s, down from 4000ha originally, to 900ha today.

Seagrass meadows of Cockburn Sound are critical foraging and nursery grounds for Pink Snapper and plenty of other important species such as Blue Swimmer Crab, King George Whiting and Squid.

OzFish Unlimited is leading this trial, with support from Recfishwest and researchers from the University of Western Australia, along with BCF.

A baron sandy floor with little seagrass coverage; a great reason to have a go and see if the trial works!

The WA community have a close affiliation with Cockburn Sound, with plenty of good work done previously to protect Pink Snapper stocks, including Recfishwest’s famous Snapper Guardians initiative. Spawning closures, bag limits and stocking events are proof the fishing community value the Pink Snapper fishery of Cockburn Sound.

A baron sandy floor with little seagrass coverage; a great reason to have a go and see if the trial works!

Seagrass flowers and seeds are most commonly seen floating together as mats.

This sense of caring deeply about Cockburn Sound sees the fishing community wanting to trial something out of the ordinary in an effort to restore lost fish habitat.

Recfishwest and Ozfish are hosting a community information session at the Cockburn Power Boats Club. Come and learn more about the project and how you can be involved. Register below.

 

 

 

 

Seeds for Snapper Community Information Session Details:

Where: Cockburn Power Club, Woodman Point

When: 3rd October, 6:30pm – 8pm

Who: Ozfish, Recfishwest & University of Western Australia

Seeds for Snapper is also supported by BCF, as a major partner of Ozfish Unlimited.

Background Information

In Western Australia, the Pink Snapper fishery has been part of the cultural fabric for generations with fishers across the state delighting in catching Pinkies. After Shark Bay, Cockburn Sound is Western Australia’s second largest Pink Snapper spawning ground. However, in recent years the Pink Snapper fishery has seen management changes across the state due to fishing pressures, environmental changes and seagrass habitat degradation.

The seagrass meadows of Cockburn Sound are well recognized as critical foraging and nursery grounds for Pink Snapper. Yet, Cockburn Sound has lost some 80% of its seagrass habitat since the 1960’s, down from 4000ha originally, to 900ha today. That’s equivalent to 2, 600 football field-sized areas of seagrass habitat lost over the past few decades! Important species affected by the seagrass loss include not only Pink Snapper but others such as squid, garfish and blue swimmer crabs.

Appreciation of the role seagrass meadows play in providing great fishing opportunities is growing in Western Australia due to increased understanding of the critical link between our seagrass habitats and coastal fisheries.

People may have already seen the racks of flower pods collected by currents floating on the water’s surface. These will be collected and taken to UWA for treatment to separate the seed from the flower pods.

OzFish Unlimited have partnered with Recfishwest and the University of Western Australia (UWA) to support this citizen science restoration program’s plan to use volunteer fishers to release 1 Million seagrass seeds to scale up seagrass restoration.

The seed will be given to fishers to take back out and sown into an area identified just north of Woodman’s Point.  Evaluating the performance of the re-seeded meadows as they develop will also be measured by this project.

An overarching aim of this restoration program is to ensure there is full engagement with the recreational fishing community across the different elements of seed-based seagrass restoration and the outcomes of their re-seeding program to foster community support.

 

 

Register here to attend the information night

Seeds for Snapper

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