A perspective on two decades of policies and regulations influencing the protection and restoration of submerged aquatic vegetation in Chesapeake Bay, USA
Abstract:Seagrasses along with many other species of freshwater rooted submerged macrophytes in Chesapeake Bay (collectively called SAV) underwent serious declines in population abundances in the 1970s and have not as yet rebounded to previous levels. Cooperative efforts by scientists, politicians, federal and state resource managers, and the general public have developed policies and plans to protect, preserve and enhance SAV populations of Chesapeake Bay. These include the Chesapeake Bay Agreements (1983, 1987, 1992, 1993, 2000), an SAV Management Policy and Implementation Plan for Chesapeake Bay and Tidal Tributaries (1989 and 1990), Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan (1997), as well as federal and state guidelines for protecting SAV communities from direct human impacts such as dredge and fill operations. The foundation for many of these management efforts has been the recognition of the habitat value of SAV to many fish and shellfish, and the elucidation of linkages between water quality conditions and the continuing occurrence of SAV as established by minimal water quality habitat requirements for growth and survival. Because of these linkages, the distribution of SAV in the Bay and its tidal tributaries is being used as an initial measure of progress in the restoration of living resources and water quality. Restoration targets and goals have been established to link demonstrable improvements in water quality to increases in SAV abundance. The major challenge facing the Chesapeake Bay community will be to restore SAV habitat and ecosystem functions to historic levels. However, the recent success in the development of policies, plans, regulations and laws highlighting the importance of SAV communities in Chesapeake Bay and their protection and restoration, is an excellent example of effective communication linkages and adaptive management principles between scientists, resource managers, politicians and the public in the Chesapeake Bay region. Only through these interactions will SAV restoration become a reality.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: November 1, 2002
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