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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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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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Pembrokeshire residents urged to take a virtual GP consultation when offered

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PEMBROKESHIRE residents are being urged to take up the offer of a virtual consultation, over the phone or video call with their GP, to help Keep Wales Safe during the current lockdown ‘stay at home’ restrictions.

The way we access local NHS services is changing, with more ways in which you can consult your doctor or nurse. Most surgeries now offer telephone as well as electronic advice consultations in the first instance. Following your advice call, a face to face appointment may be organised, but video consultations are also available. You can now speak to a doctor or healthcare professional using the video camera in your smartphone, tablet or computer and a connection to the internet. This is often more convenient and can save you time, as you will not need to travel for a face-to-face appointment. The system used is confidential and secure.

In a recent YouGov survey carried out for the Welsh Government’s Keep Wales Safe campaign only 27% of residents in Mid and West Wales had made use of the GP virtual service over the past 12 months with just 57% having heard of the service. However, 88% believed it was important to have access to a remote GP consultation once they had learnt of its existence.

Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care, Community and Long Term Care at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “If you are offered a video consultation appointment this is because your Health Care Professional has indicated that is it safe and appropriate to do so. Your video appointment will be confidential and will not be recorded. If you require support please contact your GP surgery using the number provided in the appointment confirmation.”

She continued: “By putting off small problems or regular appointments you could potentially be putting more strain on NHS emergency services so please, help us to help you, do not put anything off. Local GP surgeries are open and are there to offer medical advice and consult patients.”

After being offered a video consultation you will be sent a letter, email or text with details of your appointment. This communication will contain details of the service that has requested to see you by video and have provided a web address link. You can type or copy the web address link into a web browser via an internet enabled device and this will take you to the video clinic waiting area.

  • In order to access your virtual appointment, you will need:
  • Access to a device that will allow you to access the internet. You should use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge web browser on a desktop or laptop, or on an Android tablet or smartphone or Safari web browser on an Apple iMac, MacBook, iPad, or iPhone.
  • Your device will need a webcam (camera), speakers and microphone.
  • A good internet connection (if you can watch a YouTube video, this is good indication that you have a good connection).
  • An internet usage plan that is sufficient to cover the data consumption of a video call – ideally use a Wi-Fi connection if you have this available.

Sixty two percent of those surveyed by YouGov in Mid and West Wales said they will continue to access NHS services using the new ways that have been introduced as a result of the pandemic. The new methods include making more use of pharmacists; virtual GP consultations and using the NHS 111 online and telephone services.

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