The Deterioration of Hong Kong's Seagrass Beds: Conserving the Precious Gift from the Nature
Wai Shan Jaimie Dwi The University of Hong Kong
Located in the coastal region, Hong Kong is truly gifted by various marine habitats, including mangroves, coral communities, estuaries, and inconspicuous seagrass beds. Although seagrass beds are commonly overlooked in nature conservation, they have the remarkable ability to solve climate change and maintain the biodiversity of marine ecosystems. Seagrass beds contribute ecological and functional values such as marine food supply, nursery ground for juvenile marine organisms, blue carbon sink and economic support to aquaculture. They are important keystone species in the marine system. However, human disturbances cause the global deterioration of seagrass populations, including five seagrass species native to Hong Kong struggling to survive. Local and cross-border disturbances from coastal development to pollution threatening the seagrass dispersal in Hong Kong, resulting in shrinkage of seagrass populations. Therefore, conservation of the seagrass population is crucial to prevent the loss of ecosystem services and maintain the diverse biodiversity of Hong Kong. Management of seagrass beds has been demonstrated two decades ago where land reclamation had proceeded for the development of Chek Lap Kok International Airport, and translocation of seagrass was completed near the mangrove in Lai Chi Wo. However, the humble seagrass is not noticed by the public, so little conservation or studies of seagrass in Hong Kong were done in the past. Here, raising the public knowledge of seagrass beds would increase the attention on seagrass beds conservation in Hong Kong.