Pilot Scheme on Strangford Lough Aims to Stimulate Seagrass Growth by Testing Advanced Mooring System
On Strangford Lough a pilot scheme is underway to stimulate the growth of seagrass on the seabed by testing advanced mooring systems. Seagrass, a marine flowering plant, forms what is known as a blue carbon habitat, with what is thought to be a greater ability to absorb and store carbon than that of trees.
The aim of these trial mooring scheme in Strangford Lough is to change nothing above the water, but to stimulate life below, by testing new and innovative ways of preventing the traditional mooring systems from damaging the seabed and the important seagrass habitats.
According to Chairperson Cllr Michael Savage of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council’s, “the traditional mooring system with a swinging chain can scar the bottom of the seabed and damage the seagrass, which is a carbon capture plant that many people are excited about. If this trial is successful, there are mooring sites in many locations across Strangford Lough, that could potentially benefit from this new mooring system.”
Commercial diver Jonathan Connor was among those who recently dived on the trial site for its annual inspection. “We were doing a marine inspection – looking at the chains, making sure they were okay,” he said. “When you are working underwater you have an objective and a task to do, so most of the time your mind is focused on that and not necessarily on the wildlife around you. But from time to time, it is nice to look around and take in the natural environment.” He added, “there is so much biodiversity to see down there. It is incredible!”
The pilot scheme is expected to continue for a number of years, and the aim is to stimulate the growth of seagrass and enhance the conservation and protection of Strangford Lough. By trialling new ways of preventing traditional mooring systems from damaging the seabed and removing the seagrass, the project hopes to create a sustainable future for our boating communities in the lough.