Seagrass ecosystems of the Pacific Island Countries and Territories: A global bright spot

Type Article
Date 2021-06
Language English
Author(s) McKenzie Len J.1, 2, Yoshida Rudi L.1, 3, Aini John W.4, Andréfouet Serge5, Colin Patrick L.6, Cullen-Unsworth Leanne C.7, 8, Hughes Alec T.9, Payri Claude E.5, Rota Manibua10, Shaw Christina11, Skelton Posa A.12, Tsuda Roy T.13, Vuki Veikila C.14, Unsworth Richard K.F.8, 15
Affiliation(s) 1 : Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER), James Cook University, Cairns, Qld 4870, Australia
2 : Seagrass-Watch, Cairns, Qld 4870, Australia
3 : SeagrassFutures Fiji, Ma'afu St, Suva, Fiji
4 : Ailan Awareness, Kaselok, New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea
5 : UMR-9220 ENTROPIE (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Université de la Réunion, Ifremer, CNRS, Université de la Nouvelle-Calédonie), 101, promenade Roger-Laroque Anse Vata, BP A5, 98848 Nouméa, New Caledonia
6 : Coral Reef Research Foundation, P.O. Box 1765, Koror 96940, Palau
7 : Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University, 33 Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3BA, UK
8 : Project Seagrass, PO Box 412, Bridgend CF31 9RL, UK
9 : Wildlife Conservation Society, Munda, Western Province, Solomon Islands
10 : Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources Development, Tarawa, Kiribati
11 : Vanuatu Environmental Science Society, PO Box 1630, Port Vila, Vanuatu
12 : Oceania Research Development Associates, Townsville, Qld, Australia.
13 : Natural Sciences-Botany, Bernice P. Bishop Museum, 1525 Bernice Street, Honolulu, HI 96817-2704, USA
14 : Oceania Environment Consultants, PO Box 5214, UOG Station, Mangilao 96923, Guam
15 : Seagrass Ecosystem Research Group, College of Science, Swansea University, SA2 8PP, UK
Source Marine Pollution Bulletin (0025-326X) (Elsevier BV), 2021-06 , Vol. 167 , P. 112308 (24p.)
DOI 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2021.112308
WOS© Times Cited 16
Keyword(s) Seagrass, Ecosystem services, Habitats, Threats, Resilience, Management, DPSIR

Seagrass ecosystems exist throughout Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs). Despite this area covering nearly 8% of the global ocean, information on seagrass distribution, biogeography, and status remains largely absent from the scientific literature. We confirm 16 seagrass species occur across 17 of the 22 PICTs with the highest number in Melanesia, followed by Micronesia and Polynesia respectively. The greatest diversity of seagrass occurs in Papua New Guinea (13 species), and attenuates eastward across the Pacific to two species in French Polynesia. We conservatively estimate seagrass extent to be 1446.2 km2, with the greatest extent (84%) in Melanesia. We find seagrass condition in 65% of PICTs increasing or displaying no discernible trend since records began. Marine conservation across the region overwhelmingly focuses on coral reefs, with seagrass ecosystems marginalised in conservation legislation and policy. Traditional knowledge is playing a greater role in managing local seagrass resources and these approaches are having greater success than contemporary conservation approaches. In a world where the future of seagrass ecosystems is looking progressively dire, the Pacific Islands appears as a global bright spot, where pressures remain relatively low and seagrass more resilient.

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Map. KML file containing the Google map of the most important areas described in this article. 2 MB Open access
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McKenzie Len J., Yoshida Rudi L., Aini John W., Andréfouet Serge, Colin Patrick L., Cullen-Unsworth Leanne C., Hughes Alec T., Payri Claude E., Rota Manibua, Shaw Christina, Skelton Posa A., Tsuda Roy T., Vuki Veikila C., Unsworth Richard K.F. (2021). Seagrass ecosystems of the Pacific Island Countries and Territories: A global bright spot. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 167, 112308 (24p.). Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :