Keep calm and save Posidonia

Daisee Aguilera, Whitesand Solutions

Posidonia oceanica ensures sea clarity, protects beaches from the impact of waves, and provides shelter for numerous marine species. The largest Posidonia meadow in the Mediterranean is located within the Nature Park Ses Salines d’Eivissa and Formentera on the Balearic Islands in Spain. This meadow is considered the oldest organism in the world, about 100,000 years old, which is why UNESCO declared this area a World Heritage site in 1999.

The Balearic beauty attracts a large number of sailors, and free anchoring soon became the main reason for the degradation of the Posidonia meadow. Therefore, the Balearics decided to raise the protection of this species to a higher level. The government passed the Decree on the conservation of the Posidonia oceanica species, thus providing a legislative framework for its more efficient protection.

Free anchoring above Posidonia meadows is prohibited and punishable by the decree, and in order to ensure its implementation, a detailed map of the distribution of Posidonia meadows and an app for sailors that provides them with the information needed to choose suitable places for mooring boats outside the Posidonia meadows was created.

A radio channel to help anchor ships was also established, and used by more than 6,000 ships in 2020. Numerous campaigns, projects, and communication materials have contributed to the growing awareness of the need to protect Posidonia.

Daisee Aguilera, Whitesand Solutions

But, supervision was crucial and its main goal was to change the habits of sailors, that is, to inform them not to anchor on or in the immediate vicinity of Posidonia, and not to fine them.

In 2020, surveillance was carried out on about 73,000 ships, and 6,000 of them were asked to move from posidonia meadows to sand (from blue to white). This number is decreasing year by year, which proves that the measures implemented are effective, and that sailors are informed and willing to cooperate.

Today, the Balearic Islands, and especially the islet of Formentera, are a positive example of the protection of Posidonia in the Mediterranean. During just a few years of conducting educational activities and informing about the negative impact of anchoring on Posidonia meadows, the sailors impact was reduced to a minimum.

Networking, cooperating, informing, and an equal approach to everyone at sea were the key to success, so the number of issued fines for improper anchoring all these years is negligible.

This success is the result of strong political will, but also the cooperation and coordination of a large number of stakeholders. Many other areas in the Mediterranean want to copy it, and we hope that Croatia will also follow this bright example.

In Sunce, since July 2021, we have been conducting a campaign Become a Posidonia Keeper, as part of the EU Interreg Italy-Croatia SASPAS project, with which we are raising public awareness, especially sailors, about the importance of protection and preservation of seagrasses, with special emphasis on Posidonia.

Join our network of socially responsible companies and enterprises that will, as Ambassadors of Posidonia, help achieve the goal and create a network of sailors of the Posidonia Keepers who directly help protect seagrass with their behavior and actions.

If you want to Become a Posidonia Keeper, find some simple advices HERE.

As part of the project Preserving the Adriatic Sea Ecosystems by Active Participation of Citizens – SEAS, we ventured in a research about the impact of beach filling and replenishment on seabed communities under the guidance of expert Ph.D. SIlvija Kipson. Review work of Ph.D. Kipson gives us a window into the sea and shows us examples of how the use of inadequate material for beach filling makes various changes in the biogeochemistry of the environment, which thereby ceases to be a suitable habitat for the previous organisms, such as Posidonia.

Precisely for this reason, in May 2022, SunceZelena Istra and WWF Adria launched an online campaign Stop beach filling, which aim is to make the public aware of the solutions advocated by civil society organizations to protect and ensure effective management of the marine environment.