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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 got a lot to learn about blue carbon habitats and how best to nurture them. With new discoveries being made all the time, it’s an exciting world to be in!

Image taken of Eelgrass on the seabed in Gansey Bay.

Image of Eelgrass, a type of Seagrass that grows on the seabed of the Isle of Man, taken by R Henthorn.

Why is Blue Carbon important?  

In our journey to NetZero, the healthy habitats which store blue carbon are important allies. Brilliantly, these marine superstars do many other jobs which benefit both people and marine life, and 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.

Image of seaweed on the seabed

Image of Seaweed on the seabed of the Isle of Man taken by 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 together across Government, and with the fishing community, scientists, conservationists, and business.

Image of the Manx Blue Carbon Team flying a drone on Gansey Beach.

Image of the Manx Blue Carbon Team flying a drone on Gansey Beach. 

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.

Image of core samples being taken

Image (left to right): Core sample being brought onboard next to an image of an inshore sample being taken at Port St Mary for the Blue Carbon Project.  

A one-year development phase began in February 2022, to be followed, if successful, by the design and implementation of a blue carbon management plan for the Isle of Man over the following two years.

The Manx Blue Carbon Project is run by the Department for the Environment, Forests 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).

83% of the global carbon cycle is circulated through the ocean

Contact the Manx Blue Carbon Team 

Email: jacqui.keenan@gov.im or rowan.henthorn@gov.im

Phone: +44 (0) 7624 236882

Research Partners