Training in participatory seagrass survey techniques
Kampot province: From 6-10 May 2013, a training on participatory seagrass survey techniques was organized by IUCN, funded by the EU, through IUCN’s Building Coastal Resilience (BCR) project. It aimed to build capacity of participants on seagrass survey techniques and environmental and developmental issues related to the seagrass.
The training aimed to provide an understanding of seagrass survey techniques to 22 participants from Kampot Provincial Departments of Environment, Fisheries, Land Management and Wetlands, as well the local fisheries’ community involvment in the seagrass survey. It was facilitated by IUCN seagrass experts.
Cambodia has 440 km of coastline, covering four coastal provinces of Kampot, Kep, Kampong Som and Koh Kong. Kampot province has many flagship coastal ecosystems such as mangroves (1,900 ha), seagrasses (25,240 ha), coral reefs (953 ha) and other significant ecosystems - valuable both economically and ecologically – which offer a considerable array of goods and services. The seagrass survey areas cover three sections. Section A extends from Prek Trapeang Ampil to Prek Khdat (covering 1,795 ha), Section B extends from Prek Khdat to Koh Touch (380 ha), and Section C extends from Koh Touch to Kep Municipality (23,065 ha).
Mr KONG Kimsreng, IUCN Senior Programme Officer said, “Seagrasses are imperative as they provide significant nursery grounds and sources of food for economically important species of fish and prawns. They reduce wave and current energy and help filter suspended sediments from water and to stabilize bottom sediments. Seagrasses act as nutrient sinks; they buffer and filter nutrients and chemical inputs to the marine environment and support numerous food chains.”
According to a UNEP report published in 2007, the annual economic value of seagrasses in Cambodia is USD 1,186 per ha, equivalent to about USD 40 million of the whole seagrass areas. Seagrasses are important as they are capable of absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere than mangroves and terrestrial forests.
Deputy Provincial Governor of Kampot H.E. SAUT Yea said, “Seagrasses are vital for the wellbeing, food security of coastal communities, and are also rich in biodiversity. I recognized that this training workshop and field survey on seagrass are very important activities. Thanks to IUCN’s BCR project for financially supporting the training workshop.”
The workshop also brought participants to the field sites at the Prek Thnoat community fisheries to bring theory into practice. They applied three different methods of seagrass surveys namely the spot check survey, line transect survey and reef survey with a manta tow. The workshop also looked at some parameters such as seagrass species identification, seagrass percentage cover, pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and salinity. Data from the field work was shown, and analyses were presented to all participants.
The seagrass survey training techniques will provide an opportunity for all relevant stakeholders including representatives of government agencies, local communities and development partners to get involved immediately after training. Moreover, the results of the survey are very crucial to update the seagrass distribution for Kampot Province and can also be used for the ongoing Kampot Coastal Use Zoning.
By: LOU Vanny