In March 2021, the MareCet team traveled to the Seagrass Ecosystem Services (SES) Project sites in Malaysia. This was an important field trip, as MareCet has been unable to visit the area since 2020, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The trip focused on Pulau Sibu and Pulau Tinggi, where the team was able to reconnect with the local communities after the long break. It was an opportunity for MareCet and the local communities to exchange ideas for the next steps, particularly concerning the development of business models that will support both local livelihoods and seagrass conservation.
Back on the mainland, the team met with local authorities in the Mersing District to discuss the SES Project and the activities MareCet plan to implement with local communities in more detail. These plans were well received, with the government officials pledging to support SES Project activities.
The team also visited an inter-tidal seagrass meadow separating Mersing town from Pulau Setindan. The area has never been properly mapped or assessed for seagrass coverage, so the team conducted a quick survey, identifying seven species of seagrass and spotting signs of turtle cropping and an old dugong trail.
MareCet is really excited to include the Pulau Setindan site in the SES Project, particularly because there is little to no existing research or data about the area. From their initial survey, it is clear that this is an important seagrass meadow, but existing plans to construct a bridge connecting Setindan Island to the mainland might threaten it. MareCet hopes that the research and data generated by the SES project will influence coastal development decisions in the area, and promote the conservation of the seagrass meadow.
MareCet plans to commence mapping the meadows and gathering data for seagrass ecosystem service valuation at Pulau Sibu, Tinggi and Setindan in May 2021.