In July 2021, the campaign “Become a Posidonia keeper” was launched, as part of which the goal is to raise public awareness, especially sailors, about the importance of protection and preservation of seagrasses, with special emphasis on Posidonia. Also, our goal is to bring the importance and purpose of environmentally friendly anchoring closer to boaters and encourage them to think about anchoring and anchoring locations. Through the campaign, the intention is to create a network of socially responsible companies and firms that as Ambassadors of Posidonia will help achieve the goal and create a network of sailors as Keepers of Posidonia who through their behaviour and actions directly help protect marine flora.
Posidonia (Posidonia oceanica), a strictly protected species, is seagrass and endemic to the Mediterranean Sea. Posidonia meadows are considered to be the most important ecosystem of the Mediterranean because of their ecological functions and the ecosystem services they provide. Despite their prevalence, they are threatened by numerous human actions.
Disruption of marine ecosystems by destroying seagrass meadows is associated with seafloor erosion, biodiversity loss, oxygen reduction in seawater etc. These plants are endangered due to many human activities such as numerous fish and shellfish farms, pulling fishing nets along the seabed, concreting and backfilling natural shores, as well as construction in the coastal belt and free anchoring that causes permanent damage to Posidonia meadows. The SASPAS project pays great attention to the problem of free anchoring since even small anchors can destroy large areas of the seabed.
For this purpose, within the INTERREG Italy-Croatia SASPAS project, the implementation of the seagrass monitoring system and collection of monitoring data on an annual basis, installation of environmentally friendly anchoring system (anchorages and simple signal buoys), pilot seagrass transplantation, and establishment of an integrated management system for seagrasses in the Adriatic area (GIS Digital Information Platform (DIP)) as well as the development of proposals for the Integrated Management Program for the Protection of Seagrasses (MSSIMP).
Specific project activities are carried out at three Natura 2000 ecological network sites and are subject to different degrees of anthropogenic pressures: Kornati National Park in Croatia and Panzano Bay (Monfalcone), Brindisi coast, and Dune Costiere Nature Park from Torre Canne to Torre San Leonardo in Italy.
Back in June 2019, monitoring of Posidonia meadows in the area of the Kornati National Park was established, and monitoring of the situation was carried out at two locations – Kravljačica Bay and the bay between Borovnik Island and Balun Island.
To reduce the negative impact of anchoring on the habitats of seagrass Posidonia, during July 2021, a total of 40 environmentally friendly anchoring buoys were set up within the Kornati National Park. Such anchorages have been set up in four bays: Kravljačica, Strižnja, Šipnate and Tomasovac – Suha punta.
In each of these bays, there are 10 anchorages for vessels up to 16 meters in length. Given that in the Kornati National Park, Posidonia meadows are under great pressure due to many years of uncontrolled free anchoring, the installation of buoys for mooring vessels will prevent free anchoring and thus reduce the threat to seagrass on the seafloor within this protected area.
The anchor system, i.e. buoys, is not set in the usual way – by tying the buoy to concrete blocks, but by a different method. A special “anchor” is drilled into the rocky bottom where it remains buried without significant damage to the seabed.
With the successful installation of such an anchor system within the SASPAS project, the realization of the long-term goal of the Kornati National Park has begun, to establish anchorages in all 19 bays and to completely ban free anchoring in the national park.