Seagrass Underwater seagrass. Photo courtesy of Batangas PIO

PGB marks World Seagrass Day

March 12, 2023 Jojo C. Magsombol 282 views

BATANGAS Capitol – The provincial government of Batangas joined the celebration of “World Seagrass Day” which is marked every year on the first day of March to raise awareness on the preservation and conservation of seagrass worldwide to ensure a healthy and prosperous ecosystem and protection caused by climate change.

This is in accordance with the declaration of the United Nations General Assembly on May 22, 2022.

In line with this, Governor DoDo Mandanas, and through the Provincial Government Environment and Natural Resources Office (PGENRO), has continued the establishment and management of marine protected areas, including the seagrass beds.

In order to further promote the maintenance of a healthy, orderly, and clean environment and rich oceans throughout the province, regular monitoring and assessment of water quality from seas, rivers, and lakes are also carried out; distribution and planting of forest and fruit-bearing tree seedlings and mangroves, cleaning of beaches and roadsides, teaching proper waste disposal and other activities, in collaboration with coastal local governments, national government agencies, academe, non-governmental organizations, private organizations, and communities.

Seagrass are flowering plants that live in the sea along baby bays. There are more than 72 species of seagrass in the world found in shallow, coastal, temperate, and tropical waters covering approximately 300,000 km² in 159 countries. Their growth is limited by sunlight and water clarity.

According to data from PGENRO and based on the studies conducted, currently, it is estimated that there are more than 34.03 hectares of seagrass beds along the coast of Batangas, including those found in some established marine protected areas. There are five species of seagrass in the province such as Enhalus Acoroides (tape grass), Halodule sp, Halophila Ovata (Dugong grass), Halodule sp (needle grass), Thalassia sp, and Syringodium sp based on the initial survey and mapping of seagrass beds in entire coast of the province led by PGENRO.

Seagrass plays an important role in marine life and human life, such as environmental, social, and economic benefits. It is considered one of the most productive fish habitats (nursery) and food source for marine life. Fish, turtles and other organisms in the sea take food from seagrass beds, in addition to organisms that are part of their life or life cycle. Seagrass beds also help slow sea erosion and improve water quality and clarity. Slow coastal erosion is key to protecting homes, buildings, resorts and beaches during hurricanes and other impacts of climate change.

Unfortunately, seagrass beds are endangered and face damaging threats such as polluted runoffs, stormwater runoffs, and boat propeller damage. Due to nutrient pollution, seagrass beds are affected leading to an increase in the number of algae blooms. Stormwater runoff contains particles and sediments that increase water turbidity which can block sunlight and limit seagrass growth. Meanwhile, propeller scars occur when the boat comes into shallow water and the propeller damages the seagrass bed. Recovery from injuries can take years.