To the editor:

Recently a team of local citizens, town commissioners and marine experts collaborated to make our Manchester Harbor healthier and more usable. Their initial work focuses on eelgrass, a flowering marine plant that forms underwater meadows, plays a significant role in supporting food security, preventing the erosion of coastlines, mitigating climate change and supporting biodiversity. For many reasons, some eelgrass meadows along the Manchester-by-the-Sea coastline have been slowly disappearing.

Manchester’s Conservation Commission, under Chairman Steve Gang, formed the Eelgrass Conservation Subcommittee and tasked them with further understanding the root causes of the loss and then working to help restore these underwater habitats. Conservation Commission members Henry Oettinger and David Lumsden have made significant strides in partnering with experts and members of the community to help mitigate this issue.

This past week, Dr. Oettinger convened a group of scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Manchester harbormaster and Brookwood fifth graders to harvest eelgrass reproductive chutes containing seeds in order to sow them in more depleted areas of our coastline. More than 1,000 potential eelgrass plants were relocated to less dense areas of Manchester Harbor. The specific areas that were re-planted will be monitored again in October to assess transplant success. Gang concluded: “I’m thrilled to see Conservation Commissioners working together with town and federal resources to help improve Manchester Harbor. All of us on the Con Com welcome more input and practical suggestions from our neighbors in Manchester.”

Alison Sellers