Tunisian specialists are sending an alarm about the damaging effects of the reduction of Posidonia in the Mediterranean Sea. Over the years scientists have proven that seagrass meadows have a strong carbon absorption capacity. And according to this marine ecologist in Tunis, Posidonia could also produce up to 20 litres of oxygen per square meter.
” Forests store carbon on land, and this is called green carbon. Underwater, is referred to as blue carbon. So these ecosystems and especially Posidonia, capture large quantities of carbon over thousands of years, what’s more, if we compare them with land ecosystems, there are much more effective in terms of carbon storage and sequestration.”, explains Rym Zakhama-Sraieb, researcher at the University of Tunis.
Tunisia is popular for its beaches, one of the great assets of tourism. However, over 40% of these dream spots are at risk since the seagrass species also helps to break the waves and prevent erosion.
“The existence of all Tunisian economic activities relies on Posidonia. Fishing is closely linked to the state of the meadows. Tunisian’s coasts and its regression which can directly affect the tourism sector, are linked to the existence and presence of this Posidonia, says Yassine Ramzi Sghaier, a marine biologist, if tomorrow there are no more banks, we run the risk of having more serious economic problems than those we are currently seeing.“
The fishing industry which represents 13% of the country’s GDP is also at risk as these underwater forests provide shelter for marine species.
A study conducted 12 years ago in the Gulf of Gabes on Tunisia’s east coast, found the massive degradation and disappearance of the seagrass bed was essentially due to illegal fishing and pollution.