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Dale Bay hosting important environmental project

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SKY OCEAN RESCUE, the WWF and Swansea University are launching the biggest seagrass restoration project ever undertaken in the UK, which will take place at Dale Bay in Pembrokeshire.

Seagrass Ocean Rescue aims to restore 20,000 m² of the marine plant in west Wales, following the disappearance of up to 92% of the UK’s seagrass in the last century. The huge decline has been caused by pollution, runoff from the land, coastal development and damage from boat propellers and chain moorings.

Seagrass is a flowering marine plant that captures carbon from the atmosphere up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests, making it a key weapon in the battle against climate change. It often grows in large underwater meadows, which absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. As the fires continue to engulf the Amazon rainforest – the largest land-based carbon sink on the planet – the ocean’s role in halting climate change is becoming all the more important.

Alec Taylor, WWF head of marine policy, said: “Seagrass is a wonder-plant that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, so its steep decline is extremely concerning. Without seagrass the myriad of amazing species that depend on it could disappear, the food we eat will be affected and the amount of carbon in the environment will increase.

Along with Sky Ocean Rescue and Swansea University, we are urgently calling on governments to use the model our project is creating to bring back these lush underwater meadows. Governments also need to work with local communities to ensure that these vital areas are well managed. The UK can become a global leader in restoring ocean health and combating climate change if it uses the solutions that nature provides.”

Globally, seagrass accounts for 10% of annual ocean carbon storage, despite occupying only 0.2% of the seafloor. It is important for biodiversity, acting as a nursery for a wide variety of marine life from endangered seahorses to colourful sea snails. 10,000 m² of seagrass can support 80,000 fish and 100 million invertebrates. It is a crucial habitat for many of the fish we eat such as cod, plaice and pollock, and helps protect our coasts from erosion as it absorbs wave energy. It produces oxygen as well as helping to clean the ocean by absorbing polluting nutrients produced on land by humans.

The cutting-edge pilot project will create a model that could lead the way for large scale seagrass restoration throughout the UK if it is adopted by the UK government.

This summer, one million seeds were collected from existing meadows around the British Isles by a group of volunteers led by Swansea University. The seagrass, which is found in shallow, sheltered areas along the coast, was reached by snorkelling, diving and wading. The blades containing the seeds were snapped off – causing no harm to the plant – and then taken to laboratories where they are currently being sorted and prepared, following a method pioneered by Swansea University.

The seeds will be put in hessian bags to secure them when they are planted on the seabed, which will take place this winter at a site in Dale Bay. Historically this area has lost seagrass but has the right features for it to survive in terms of water depth and sufficient light levels.

Swansea University’s Dr Richard Unsworth, director of the conservation charity Project Seagrass and lead biologist on the project, said: “If we want to provide our fisheries and our coastlines with the potential to adapt to a rapidly changing climate we need to restore the habitats and biodiversity that support their productivity. Providing a demonstration of the potential for restoration of our marine environment to be meaningful will hopefully act as a catalyst for further recovery of our UK seas.”

Seagrass Ocean Rescue involves working with the local communities close to the planting site, to design the project in a way that does not affect local livelihoods and lifestyles. The work also aims to further understanding of the importance of seagrass and the benefits that it can bring to the area. In addition to supporting an increase in fish, crab and shrimp numbers, which will benefit fishers, the area containing the seagrass is likely to see improved water clarity, enhancing local watersports activities. The work aims to demonstrate how communities and conservation can work in harmony.

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Milford Haven: Man charged over two burglaries and criminal damage

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE have released an update in relation to the spate of burglaries in Milford Haven

34-year-old Thomas John Picton has been charged with two burglaries and criminal damage in the town.

He is, say police, suspected of being involved in a burglary carried out at Cohen’s pharmacy of November 26, another at Heaven Scent shop and criminal damage to a door at The Precinct on the same date.

He will appear before Llanelli Magistrates’ Courts this morning (Dec 3).

An arrest has also been made in relation to a more recent burglary at the Royal British Legion on December 11. He was also arrested on suspicion of possession of class A.B and C drugs. He has been released under investigation.

One suspect is outstanding.

Some 11 arrests have now been made in connection with a spate of burglaries that has targeted businesses and homes in the town.

Dyfed-Powys Police has vowed to continue to crack down on suspects and prevent further burglaries in the lead up to Christmas.

Sergeant Terri Harrison from Milford Haven’s Neighbourhood Policing team said: “Hopefully this arrest provides some reassurance to the public following recent burglaries in the town. One burglary is one too many, and we will ensure that it will remain a priority for us, ensuring that we bring as much patrol cover and preventative effort as we possibly can.

“We are also aware of the impact that burglaries can have on individual householders and businesses alike. Don’t make it easy for them, stay alert to your surroundings and report anything suspicious to police immediately no matter how insignificant it may seem. The report of a suspicious vehicle or people acting strangely in your neighbourhood can help us to prevent and detect crime. We need to work together to tackle this.”

Chief Inspector Harries added: “There has been a significant amount of work carried out by the Criminal Investigation Department, response officers and neighbourhood policing teams from across the county to tackle this rise in burglary offences. We are committed to maintaining patrols in the area and seek support from the community to report any concerns.”

If you would like further advice on home security you can contact your local Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101.

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Carmarthen West & South Pembs still blue as Hart increases majority

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SIMON HART has retained his Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire seat with an increased majority.

Polling over 22,000 votes, he comfortably saw off the challenge of Labour’s Marc Tierney, who recorded just shy of 14,500 votes.

Plaid’s Dr Rhys Thomas polled over 3,000 votes in third. Alistair Cameron of the Liberal Democrats finished fourth.

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Stephen Crabb demolishes Labour with his biggest ever majority

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POLLING the largest ever number of votes for the Conservatives in Preseli Pembrokeshire, Stephen Crabb increased his majority in yesterday’s General Election.

Mr Crabb polled 21,381 votes against his nearest rival’s (Labour’s Philippa Thompson) 16,319.

Plaid Cymru finished third with 2,776 votes and the Liberal Democrats trailed home in fourth with 1,943 votes.

After Returning Officer Ian Westley announced the outcome, Mr Crabb gave a notably short victory speech in which he concentrated on thanking his opponents for a good campaign fought hard but with little personal rancour.

Philippa Thompson called on Mr Crabb to work for the benefit of all his constituents in response.

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