Fishers Island Seagrass Management Coalition Update

by Connor Jones

The Fishers Island Seagrass Management (FISM) Coalition is getting ready to go into its fifth summer of activities. The Coalition’s focus this spring and summer will be on reaching out to the island community and off-island stakeholder groups for feedback on proposed seagrass management areas.

Starting in late summer 2020 and continuing into the spring of this year, the Coalition has been meeting over Zoom to identify locations around the island to designate as Seagrass Management Areas (SMAs). The Coalition has also been working on recommending associated uses for each SMA. Use categories include Fishing, Watershed Protections, Aquaculture, Non-extractive Recreational Uses and Bottom Exploitation.

The Coalition’s use recommendations attempt to balance existing commercial and recreational needs with seagrass conservation best practices.

One of the Coalition’s proposed Seagrass Management Areas (SMAs) outlined in white, near eastern tip of FI.

The Coalition will be presenting these management scenarios via a series of in-person and web-based events. We are looking for everyone to attend and provide input. The dates and details of these meetings will be posted online (FISM website and Instagram, fishersisland.net) and on island bulletin boards. Any questions regarding these upcoming events and the Coalition’s planning process can be directed to the FISM Project Coordinator, Connor Jones (fishersislandseagrass@gmail.com).

The Coalition is continuing its monitoring efforts this summer by collecting data on water quality and human usage. Water quality data are being collected through the University of Rhode Island’s Watershed Watch program. Seagrass thrives in clean water, so the information we collect through Watershed Watch will help inform future management decisions. Water samples are collected every other week, May through October.

 

FI School students assist in gathering and preparing water samples for the Watershed Watch program, May 2021. Photo by Carol Giles.

The Coalition is going into its third year as a participant in MPA (Marine Protection Area) Watch. MPA Watch is a community science project used to collect data that illustrate how humans are using coastal areas. MPA Watch depends on volunteers to collect data, and the Coalition is always looking for more people to get involved. No prior experience is necessary, training will be provided. If requested, volunteers will receive letters at the end of the year acknowledging their hours spent on the project. This year on Fishers Island, volunteers can survey by walking set routes or, if volunteers have personal boat access, they can survey from the water using the boat-based protocol.

You can stay up-to-date with the Coalition’s activities by visiting our website (fiseagrass.org), following us on Instagram (@fishers_island_seagrass) and looking for seagrass related posts on fishersisland.net.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to volunteer, participate or just learn more about our activities. Emails can be sent to the FISM Project Coordinator, Connor Jones, at fishersislandseagrass@gmail.com.

Seagrass bed at low tide, west of Hungry Point. Photo by Justine Kibbe.

The Henry L. Ferguson Museum Newsletter Vol. 36, No. 1 • Spring 2021

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