What is Blue Carbon?
Blue Carbon is carbon which is stored naturally in the sea.
Just as plants and soil absorb and lock away carbon on land (so-called ‘Green Carbon’), plants and animals in the sea do the same. Blue carbon ecosystems in the Isle of Man include seagrass meadows, salt marshes, kelp forests, maerl beds, and muddy sediments.
Compared with their counterparts on land, we’ve still got a lot to learn about blue carbon habitats and how best to nurture them.
Eelgrass, a type of Seagrass that grows on the seabed of the Isle of Man - image credit Rowan Henthorn
Why is Blue Carbon important?
In our journey to NetZero, the healthy habitats which store blue carbon are important allies. These marine superstars do many other jobs which will help lessen the impacts of climate change and reverse the loss of biodiversity, including:
- Providing places for fish and other marine life to grow and live
- Protecting coastlines from storms, flooding, and erosion
- Improving water quality
- Benefiting our physical and mental health by offering space for recreation and to reconnect with nature.
Blue carbon ecosystems – as all living creatures - also have value in their own right, independent of everything they do that benefits people.
Seaweed on the seabed of the Isle of Man - image credit Lewis Jefferies
The Manx Blue Carbon Project
As a small, independent island nation (which is 85% sea!) we have the chance to take a truly inclusive approach to looking after our blue carbon – working across Government, and with the fishing community, scientists, conservationists, and business.
The Manx Blue Carbon Team and research partners from the National Oceanography Centre and Swansea University flying a drone on Gansey Beach - credit Rowan Henthorn
With this exciting project, we want to:
- Protect and increase the carbon naturally stored in the Isle of Man’s territorial seas;
- Maintain and restore our incredible marine biodiversity; and
- Maintain and restore our seas’ ability to provide wider ecosystem functions.
To do this, we’re be finding out:
- Where our blue carbon is in the Isle of Man’s coastal areas and territorial seas;
- How much carbon is stored, how quickly it is being locked away, and where it is coming from; and
- What we can do to protect existing blue carbon stores and improve carbon storage.
Core sample being brought onboard (L) Core sediment sample being taken at Port St Mary (R)
Following a one-year development phase from February 2022, a strategic blue carbon management plan for the Isle of Man will be designed by February 2025. The plan is being developed with local stakeholders and research partners, including through the Manx Blue Carbon Working Group.
The Manx Blue Carbon Project is run by the Department for the Environment, Food and Agriculture, funded by the Climate Change Transformation Fund. It is part of the Isle of Man Government’s Phase 1 Climate Change Action Plan (action 5.7) and Climate Change Plan 2022-2027 (deliverable 4.4).
Sleih ny Marrey – People of the Sea: A blue carbon journey