Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) includes aquatic grasses (seagrasses) and also attached macro-algae. SAV is highly an useful habitat since it provides plenty of important eco-friendly functions that are complicated to replace; however it is specifically vulnerable to coastal development and also water quality degradation. Animals are drawn to SAV for shelter and also food and also to reproduce. Animal variety in grassbeds is 10-100 times an ext than over surrounding sandy seafloora. Virtually 40,000 fish and one thousands times together many tiny invertebrates are supported by a solitary acre of seagrassa. 

Commercially and recreationally important, federally-managed and also many other species are dependent ~ above SAV for every or part of your life background including: red drum, shrimp, and also spiny lobster. SAV deserve to be substrate on which countless other organisms can grow, particularly other smaller attached algae and filter-feeding animals including sponges, bryozoans, and also tunicates – jointly termed epiphytes. Filter-feeders clear the water that particles and algae that complete with the SAV for light, and also in rotate they offer as food because that baitfish and juvenile fish.

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Mutton snapper in seagrass, picture Credit: Kurtis Gregg," Habitat conservation Division is mandated to safeguard essential fish habitat by the Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and also Management Act. SAV has been identified and described together EFH because that select types or groups of fish and also some Fishery administration Councils have identified seagrass as a Habitat Area of certain Concern, a subset of EFH that is ecologically valuable, rare, and/or in ~ risk.

Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, EFH is identified as “...those waters and substrate vital to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity”. As a result, the 3 fishery monitoring councils (Gulf, Caribbean, and also South Atlantic) designated SAV as EFH, essential to conserve to promote sustainable Within the jurisdictional border of the south Atlantic Fishery monitoring Council, algae is a HAPC in the Snapper-Grouper Fishery administration Plan, and throughout the Southeast an ar it is protected through that is designation as EFH through all 3 councils.

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

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

Feeding: some fish, queen conchb, and crustaceans eat macro-algae and seagrass together a major component of your diets. However, many SAV-dwellers eat what is on seaweeds blades and also in algae beds. Snappers, flounder, and also reef fish consume worms and also smaller fish (like pinfish) when foraging between seagrass blades. Juvenile bonnethead and blacktip sharks, adult bull and also nurse sharks, and also smalltooth sawfish all hunt in seagrass bed – particularly at night.

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Queen Conch, picture Credit:

HCD enables SAV conservation initiatives through the EFH consultation procedure with various other federal agencies, such together the united States army Corps of Engineers. Federal agencies are required to consult with HCD as soon as their activities would adversely affect EFH, consisting of permits and licenses they may issue. Instances of these activities include harbor expansions, advertising marinas, and channel dredging. HCD reviews this activities, and also others, to determine if EFH is adversely impacted, and recommends come avoid, minimize, or mitigate any type of SAV impacts. The HCD offers greater scrutiny to jobs affecting EFH i beg your pardon is likewise an HAPC.