World Seagrass Day 2023
World Seagrass Day is celebrated annually on 1st March to raise awareness about seagrass and its important functions in the marine ecosystem. The seagrasses are grass-like plants that live close to the sea. They are the only flowering plant to grow in the marine environment. There are more than 60 seagrass species in the world. They act as the best carbon sink and provide food for marine life.
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The seagrasses have been declining since the 1930s. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categorizes nearly 21% of the world’s seagrasses as near threatened or vulnerable or endangered. Pollution, coastal development activities, and land-based run-offs are degrading the seagrasses.
Why seagrass matters?
Seagrasses are marine flowering plants that are found in shallow waters in many parts of the world, from the tropics to the Arctic circle. They form extensive underwater meadows, creating complex, highly productive and biologically rich habitats.
Covering only 0.1% of the ocean floor, these seagrass meadows provide food and shelter to thousands of species of fish, seahorses, turtles, etc. and sustain some of the world’s largest fisheries. They improve water quality by filtering, cycling and storing nutrients and pollutants, reducing contamination in seafood. Highly efficient carbon sinks, they can store up to 18% of the world’s oceanic carbon, making them a powerful nature-based solutions to tackle climate change impacts. Because they buffer ocean acidification, they contribute to the resilience of the most vulnerable ecosystems and species, such as coral reefs. And to the coastal populations, they act as the first line of defense along coasts by reducing wave energy, protecting people from the increasing risk of floods and storms.
World Seagrass Day: History
In May 2022, the General Assembly adopted A/RES/76/265 proclaiming 1 March as World Seagrass Day. The resolution highlights the urgent need to raise awareness at all levels and to promote and facilitate actions for the conservation of seagrasses in order to contribute to their health and development, bearing in mind that enhancing ecosystem services and functions is important for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Important takeaways for all competitive exams:
- IUCN Headquarters: Gland, Switzerland;
- IUCN Founded: 5 October 1948, Fontainebleau, France;
- IUCN Founder: Julian Huxley;
- IUCN CEO: Bruno Oberle (13 Jul 2020–);
- IUCN Motto: United for Life and Livelihoods;
- IUCN President: Razan Al Mubarak.
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