Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Monitoring Protocol Delivered to North Carolina Resource Managers
A recent assessment of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) monitoring programs revealed a global decline in the underwater plants’ abundance even though they are recognized worldwide for their many important ecological functions such as providing essential habitat for many commercially important species of fish, shellfish, and invertebrates. North Carolina has the third largest total area of SAV between Maine and Texas, but the status and trends of this resource are largely unknown.
Researchers from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science–along with their counterparts from North Carolina State University, East Carolina University, and the state’s Department of Natural Resources–evaluated the feasibility of video, diver, remote sensing, and acoustic techniques. They pulled their findings into a comprehensive recommendation for a statewide SAV monitoring program.
In late September, the group will submit a final report to the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries summarizing the three-year-long study, including details of their recommendation: a monitoring program using a multi-tool, sentinel site approach. These recommendations will be evaluated by state resource managers and implemented, based on funding availability.