This paper presents an approach to evaluate the potential area and economic benefit of Sargassum bed restoration. The approach was applied to Kuwait’s highly turbid waters where rapid coastal development causes marine ecosystem degradation. The case study showed that water depth was a primary environmental factor governing Sargassum distribution in the study sites. The relationship between Sargassum coverage and water depth indicated optimal water depths where the maximum coverage was observed. Notably, the optimal depths were different among the sites due to different turbidity levels at each site. In addition, the availability of stable hard substrate was another key factor responsible for the local sporadic distribution of Sargassum beds. Based on the optimal depths, we estimated the potential area for Sargassum beds restoration where optimum growth of Sargassum is expected. The results showed that a total area of 4.26 km² was potentially inhabitable for Sargassum in terms of light availability (depth) but was not currently vegetated mainly due to the absence of a hard substrate. This estimated potential area is comparable to as much as twofold of existing Sargassum area (2.19 km²). Furthermore, we estimated potential economic return generated by Sargassum bed restoration in the potential area in terms of production of a commercially important shrimp. The economic return was estimated to be annually 12.8 million USD or approximately 3.02 USD per unit area (m²). This study offers beneficial information for decision-makers to assess the feasibility of the habitat restoration as a part of mitigation in coastal development plans.
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019
Society for Ecological Restoration