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Gothenburg port Authority has started major eelgrass replanting project

13:40 - 22 Jul 2018 / News

The Gothenburg Port Authority has started replanting 1.7 hectares of eelgrass beds to compensate for the eelgrass that will disappear when the port is building a new terminal. It is the largest replantion of eelgrass ever in Sweden, and at the end of june, the project went from theory to practice when two test plants were carried out just outside the port.

Re-planting eelgrass is a time-consuming job as the plants need to be planted one-by-one. Photo: Gothenburg Port Authority.

The largest port in Scandinavia is growing. A new ro-ro and container terminal is due to be built beside the present ro-ro terminal at Arendal - the largest planned expansion initiative at the Port of Gothenburg since the 1970s.

On the site of the new terminal there are currently 1.7 hectares of eelgrass*. To ensure eelgrass volumes are maintained in the Gothenburg Archipelago, the Port of Gothenburg will plant the same amount of eelgrass at another location in the vicinity.

Edvard Molitor, Environmental Manager at Gothenburg Port Authority, emphasises the importance of eelgrass meadows to the ecosystem and as a spawning ground for several species of fish. “When we build the new terminal, the eelgrass meadows at the site will disappear. To compensate for this loss, we will replant the same volume of eelgrass that disappears from the bay at Arendal.”

Unfortunately, planting eelgrass is no easy task. The method that produces the best result is both expensive and time-consuming. One shoot at a time is planted by hand. It may be slow, but it is the approach research has shown works best.

Special conditions needed
After long preparations, eelgrass test plantings have now commenced in two locations just outside port area.

Edvard Molitor, Environmental Manager at the Gothenburg Port Authority. Photo: Gothenburg Port Authority.

"Special conditions have been required for the plantings to be carried out, and they must be done in a short window during the early summer, so that the plants will have a chance to settle before the fall. The conditions have been very good during the summer and it is exciting that this test project could be implemented,” said Edvard Molitor, and continued:

"Now we are excited to evaluate the results of the plantations further down the road. It is far from certain that this is a successful attempt, but if nothing else, it will contribute to increased knowledge of eelgrass and its living environments.”

The replanting of eelgrass is carried out in collaboration with marine biologists at Marine Monitoring. The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management and the County Administrative Board are also involved in the project. The investment is part of the environmental compensation commitment that the Port of Gothenburg agreed to when it was granted an environmental permit to expand the port.

“As always when we build something new, we compensate for the intrusions we cause. If we are to retain our competitiveness and meet future growth targets, the port needs to expand, but it must do so sustainably,” concluded Edvard Molitor.

* What is eelgrass?
Eelgrass meadows act as protection and as a spawning ground for several fish species. Eelgrass also helps to improve water quality and safeguards beaches against erosion. Eutrophication, overfishing and exploitation in coastal areas have resulted in the disappearance of many eelgrass meadows.

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