Critical gaps in seagrass protection reveal the need to address multiple pressures and cumulative impacts

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Management is failing to adequately protect coastal ecosystems. Here we reviewed the policies, legislation, plans and management frameworks intended to protect seagrass meadows in 20 case-studies with the aim of identifying critical gaps in seagrass protection. The case-studies were chosen to represent a range of regions known to have high cumulative impacts or outstanding seagrass management. We asked five ‘key questions’ in our review to identify gaps in seagrass protection: 1) are seagrass habitats identified as an ecosystem of environmental significance, 2) what are their main threats, 3) does management consider cumulative impacts and 4) multiple pressures, and 5) are these habitats recovering? Seagrass protection was enacted inconsistently, through a range of legislative, policy and planning processes that only sought to mitigate some of the known pressures. Although the importance of preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services were acknowledged in over 80% of the case-studies, actionable plans to specifically address known pressures were lacking. Poor integration across jurisdictional realms and sectoral management approaches prevented the holistic strategy needed to address multiple pressures. We suggest a priority for enhancing protection of seagrass ecosystems is improving legislation, policies and planning frameworks to consider multiple pressures and cumulative impacts from marine and land-based activities. Management of seagrass ecosystems is likely to be indicative of trends in coastal management more generally, highlighting the urgent need to address multiple pressures and cumulative impacts in legislation and policies.




Griffiths, L. L., Connolly, R. M., & Brown, C. J. (2019, January 1). Critical gaps in seagrass protection reveal the need to address multiple pressures and cumulative impacts. Ocean and Coastal Management. Elsevier Ltd.

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