Commercial fish farms should be moved away from seagrass meadows in order for both to thrive in the future, according to new research.
The meadows boost human well-being and the economies of coastal communities, but waste material from finfish aquaculture is known to have damaged seagrass populations worldwide.
However, off the coast of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea, many fish farms have been moved into deeper waters – and on the seabeds beneath their previous locations, the meadows are flourishing once again.
In a paper in Marine Environmental Research, researchers say this could be a positive example of how to work elsewhere in the world.
The study was led by University of Plymouth Ph.D. student Demetris Kletou and Research Assistant Periklis Kleitou, who also both work at MER in Cyprus. It also involved Professor of Marine Biology Jason Hall-Spencer and Professor of Marine Ecology Martin Attrill.
It focused on beds of Posidonia oceanica, which form one of the most important but endangered coastal ecosystems in the Mediterranean.
When fish farming began around Cyprus in the mid-1990s, cages were moored above the seagrass beds, but as production expanded they were moved into deeper waters.