New partnership helps sailors to protect seagrass meadows

Seagrass. Image by Ocean Conservation Trust Seagrass. Image by Ocean Conservation Trust

A new campaign is helping sailors do their part to tackle climate change by digitally mapping sensitive seabeds and eco-moorings across boating hotspots around the world.

The global ‘#protectourbeds´ campaign, organised between non-profit Clean Sailors, the Ocean Conservation Trust and navigation app Savvy Navvy, aims to stop vital seagrass being destroyed. This can be done by raising awareness of where sensitive seabeds lie and encouraging water users to minimise disruption – particularly while anchoring.

Seagrasses combat climate change by absorbing and storing huge amounts of carbon, but are estimated to be the fastest disappearing habitat on the planet – mainly due to avoidable human activity.

“The #protectourbeds campaign is collating geospatial data on sensitive seabeds and showing the information in the Savvy Navvy navigation app – providing sailors and water-users with a clear view of where seagrass beds are and alternatives to anchoring,” says Holly Manvell, founder of Clean Sailors.

“By mapping and sharing sensitive seabed locations with digital navigators, and offering the location of alternative ‘eco-mooring’ locations, the campaign seeks to encourage the sailing community to make more informed anchoring choices when out on the water.

savvy navvy screenshot of seagrass in Plymouth.
Seagrass shown within Savvy Navvy app interface

“Making this data visible to those of us who can mitigate our impact when boating, across the world, is incredibly exciting and just makes so much sense to seagrass conservation efforts globally,”

From February, users of Savvy Navvy can now see the location of existing seabeds and eco-moorings around the southwest of the UK in the all-in-one navigation app. Organisers say the project will build UK-wide sensitive seabed data and then focus on European waters and beyond through the course of 2023-24.

“The Ocean Conservation Trust has been working with the boating community to conserve nature for the past decade, so we are delighted to be the scientific adviser in this project,” says Mark Parry, head of ocean habitat restoration at the Ocean Conservation Trust.

“The addition of sensitive habitat information on savvy navvy navigational charts is the first time the boating community can easily understand what lies beneath the keel. Seagrass habitats are biodiversity hotspots and in decline from multiple pressures, so providing this information to the conscientious boater is a significant step forward in the recovery of this vital Ocean habitat.”

The #protectourbeds campaign is looking for data partners across Europe and the USA for the next milestone of the project. All enquiries and applications can be directed to Clean Sailors via email.

David Cusworth, head of innovation and partnerships at Savvy Navvy, says the company feels ‘very strongly’ about the campaign.

“We are so excited to work with Clean Sailors and the Ocean Conservation Trust, and be one of the only navigation apps on the market helping to build environmental awareness of carbon footprint through showcasing vital seagrass data,” he says.

“This year, we are looking to build one of the most insight-rich platforms on boating behaviour, helping marine businesses across the globe, and the #protectourbeds campaign is a great way to kickstart this.”

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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