Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) contains aquatic grasses (seagrasses) and also attached macro-algae. SAV is highly beneficial habitat since it provides numerous important ecological functions the are challenging to replace; however it is especially vulnerable to seaside development and also water quality degradation. Animals are attracted to SAV for shelter and also food and to reproduce. Animal variety in grassbeds is 10-100 times an ext than over surrounding sandy seafloora. Practically 40,000 fish and one thousand times together many tiny invertebrates are supported through a single acre that seagrassa. 

Commercially and recreationally important, federally-managed and many other types are dependent upon SAV for all or component of your life background including: red drum, shrimp, and spiny lobster. SAV deserve to be substrate on which numerous other organisms deserve to grow, specifically other smaller attached algae and filter-feeding pets including sponges, bryozoans, and tunicates – collectively termed epiphytes. Filter-feeders clear the water that particles and also algae that compete with the SAV because that light, and also in revolve they serve as food for baitfish and also juvenile fish.

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Mutton snapper in seagrass, photo Credit: Kurtis Gregg," Habitat preservation Division is mandated to safeguard essential fish habitat by the Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. SAV has been identified and also described together EFH because that select types or teams of fish and some Fishery management Councils have figured out seagrass together a Habitat Area of specific Concern, a subset the EFH the is ecologically valuable, rare, and/or at risk.

Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, EFH is defined as “...those waters and substrate crucial to fish because that spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity”. As a result, the three fishery management councils (Gulf, Caribbean, and South Atlantic) designated SAV as EFH, important to conserve to promote sustainable Within the jurisdictional boundary of the south Atlantic Fishery administration Council, seagrass is a HAPC in the Snapper-Grouper Fishery management Plan, and also throughout the Southeast region it is protected through its designation together EFH by all 3 councils.

Spawning/Breeding: Queen conch room year-round grass bed dwellers, and also lay their egg masses on seagrass bladesb.

Growth to Maturity: Red drum, gag grouper, and also flounder utilize seagrass together nursery areas. Grunts are seasonal visitors to SAV. Penaeid shrimp and also spiny lobster post-larval development occurs within estuaries and SAV, wherein they are protected from predation.

Feeding: part fish, queen conchb, and also crustaceans eat macro-algae and also seagrass as a major component of their diets. However, most SAV-dwellers eat what is on seagrass blades and also in seaweeds beds. Snappers, flounder, and also reef fish consume worms and smaller fish (like pinfish) while foraging between seagrass blades. Youth bonnethead and blacktip sharks, adult bull and also nurse sharks, and also smalltooth sawfish all hunt in seagrass beds – specifically at night.

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Queen Conch, picture Credit:

HCD allows SAV conservation initiatives through the EFH consultation process with other federal agencies, such as the united States military Corps that Engineers. Federal agencies are forced to consult with HCD once their tasks would adversely affect EFH, including permits and also licenses they might issue. Instances of these activities include port expansions, advertising marinas, and channel dredging. HCD reviews this activities, and also others, to determine if EFH is adversely impacted, and also recommends to avoid, minimize, or mitigate any kind of SAV impacts. The HCD offers greater scrutiny to projects affecting EFH i m sorry is additionally an HAPC.