• Open Access

Recognising the necessity for Indo-Pacific seagrass conservation

Authors

  • Richard K.F. Unsworth,

    1. Marine Ecology Group, Northern Fisheries Centre, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Queensland Government, P.O. Box 5396, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia
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  • Leanne C. Cullen

    1. CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, James Cook University, P.O. Box 12139, Earlville BC, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia
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  • [Correction added after online Early View publication 4 March 2010: This article was originally published online without received and accepted dates.]

Correspondence
Richard K.F. Unsworth, Marine Ecology Group, Northern Fisheries Centre, Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Queensland Government, P.O. Box 5396, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia. Tel: +61 (0) 7 4057 3713; Fax: +61 (0) 7 4057 3811; E-mail: richardunsworth@hotmail.com

Abstract

Seagrass meadows are declining globally at an unprecedented rate, yet these valuable ecosystem service providers remain marginalized within many conservation agendas. In the Indo-Pacific, this is principally because marine conservation priorities do not recognize the economic and ecological value of the goods and services that seagrasses provide. Dependency on coastal marine resources in the Indo-Pacific for daily protein needs is high relative to other regions and has been found in some places to be up to 100%. Habitat loss therefore may have negative consequences for food security in the region. Whether seagrass resources comprise an important contribution to this dependency remains largely untested. Here, we assemble information sources from throughout the Indo-Pacific region that discuss shallow water fisheries, and examine the role of seagrass meadows in supporting production, both directly, and indirectly through process of habitat connectivity (e.g., nursery function and foraging areas). We find information to support the premise that seagrass meadows are important for fisheries production. They are important fishery areas, and they support the productivity and biodiversity of coral reefs. We argue the value of a different paradigm to the current consensus on marine conservation priorities within the Indo-Pacific that places seagrass conservation as a priority.

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