All six seagrass beds in Torbay, Devon are now marked out for protection by the Ocean Conservation Trust's Blue Meadows Project

Sailors and motorboaters are being urged to look out for 23 Blue Meadows marker buoys in Torbay, Devon and to avoid anchoring in these areas to protect vital habitats.

More than 65 hectares of sensitive seagrass meadows – all the six seagrass beds in Torbay – are protected under the scheme which is being led by the Ocean Conservation Trust.

The voluntary no anchor zones have been put in place by the Harbour Authority as part of the Blue Meadows project, which aims to roll out to protect 10% of all UK seagrass in the next five years, approximately 700 hectares.

Details of the locations of the seagrass bed in Torbay can be found here.

The Ocean Conservation Trust's Blue Meadows project has deployed yellow marker buoys to proect seagrass beds in Torbay

More than 65 hectares of sensitive seagrass meadows are now marked out across Torbay

Mark Parry, head of ocean habitat restoration at the charity, said: “After kicking off our protection programme in Falmouth last year, we have been eager to continue our pipeline of locations, protecting seagrass beds along the South Coast of the UK and beyond.

“To have marked all the seagrass beds in Torbay is such a great step to achieve protection of this vital habitat and puts us well on our way to protecting 10% of all UK seagrass in the next five years.”

Boats anchoring on sensitive seagrass meadows has a detrimental effect on their overall health, which means the many environmental benefits that seagrass meadows provide are lost.

Healthy seagrass meadows provide multiple benefits to the environment, including supporting fisheries, being a hotspot for biodiversity, reducing the effects of coastal erosion and capturing carbon.

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The support of Torbay Harbour Authority was key to getting the new marker buoys in place to highlight where these sensitive habitats are in Torbay.

In addition to protecting existing seagrass beds, the Ocean Conservation Trust is working to restore seagrass meadows which have been lost.

New marker buoys in place to highlight where sensitive seagrass habitats are in Torbay, Devon

With the support of ScottishPower Foundation, the Ocean Conservation Trust have deployed 100 biodegradable hessian pillows, into St Mary’s Bay, Devon, which covers around a quarter of a hectare on the seabed. Each pillow contains healthy seagrass plantlets and shortly, more marker buoys will be put in place to protect this restoration site, allowing it to grow into a thriving seagrass meadow.

Melanie Hill, executive officer and trustee at the ScottishPower Foundation said, “We’re delighted to be able to support the Ocean Conservation Trust’s important work to restore vital seagrass meadows in Torbay.

“Seagrass is an incredible ally in the fight against climate change as it captures large amounts of carbon – and we’re dedicated to supporting initiatives that support the advancement of environmental protection.”