Port of Gothenburg – Large scale planting of eelgrass meadows

The largest port in Scandinavia is growing. A new ro-ro and container terminal is due to be built beside the present ro-ro terminal at Arendal – the largest planned expansion initiative at the Port of Gothenburg since the 1970s. However, on the site of the new terminal there are currently 1.7 hectares of eelgrass. Eelgrass meadows are very important to the ecosystem and act as protection and as a spawning ground for several fish species. Eelgrass also helps to improve water quality and protect against shoreline erosion. At the same time, eutrophication, overfishing and exploitation in coastal areas have resulted in the disappearance of many eelgrass meadows.

The construction permit therefore includes an obligation for the Gothenburg Port Authority to plant 1.7 hectares of eelgrass to compensate for the eelgrass that will disappear during construction. Unfortunately, planting eelgrass is no easy task. The method that produces the best result is both expensive and time-consuming, as one shoot at a time is planted by hand. It may be slow, but it is the approach research has shown works best.

The first test beds were created back in the summer of 2018 in the northern and southern archipelagos by moving eelgrass from a donor meadow to new locations that it was felt offered the right conditions. However, these beds proved unsuccessful and a decision was made to create new test beds in the summer of 2019, and these achieved a much better result. In 2020, the project was upscaled, and large-scale planting began. To date, 4,300 square meters of eelgrass have been planted and based on the excellent results that have emerged and new findings in this relatively unexplored area, the project is now set to move to the next level.