BLUE CARBON

Underwater worlds, coastal beaches and rock pools provide wonderful backdrops to explore and learn about the importance of seaweed for sequestering carbon and restoring oceans.

There is also an urgent need to protect and foster marine environments, in particular seaweeds. The recognition is growing that by developing marine permaculture through creating seaweed farms and replanting giant underwater kelp beds, we can capture and sink carbon to help ameliorate climate change. Seaweeds absorb half of the carbon dioxide recaptured from the atmosphere, which causes acidification, and over 90 percent of the heat from global warming. Expanded seaweed farming will also encourage biodiversity and renew marine ecosystems. 

“I believe that by 2050 our ever-sickening oceans will also have begun the long journey back to health. Mid-ocean kelp farming will be supplying vast volumes of high-quality protein. The kelp will be absorbing so much CO2 that the rate of ocean acidification is slowing.

Locally, where kelp farms are being used to help restore ecosystem health, sensitive and hard-pressed ecosystems such as coral reefs will have a little breathing space. We are so very close, yet so far from my 2050. But wisdom, vision and determination can take us there.”

Excerpted from Sunlight and Seaweed:
An Argument for How to Feed, Power and Clean Up the World by Tim Flanagan

In Australia, kelp forests are the foundation of the Great Southern Reef, a continental-scale temperate reef system that sustains high levels of biodiversity and productivity. Kelp forests in Australia support numerous species of importance, including weedy seadragons, grey nurse sharks, rock lobsters and abalone. Kelp forests similar to those in Australia dominate coastal environments in temperate and subpolar latitudes around the world and, much like terrestrial forests, create complex habitats that support diverse and productive food webs.

Unfortunately, kelp forests in many locations around Australia and in other parts of the world are experiencing habitat loss due to climate change, overgrazing from herbivores, coastal development and pollution. Dense giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) forests were previously an iconic feature of the Tasmanian coast. Now a loss of up to 95% of these giant kelp forests has seen them listed by the Australian Government as an endangered marine community – the first such listing for a marine community in Australia. The decline of giant kelp forests in eastern Tasmania is associated with increased influence of warm and nutrient-poor East Australian Current water.

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