Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) in Chesapeake Bay has received significant attention in recent decades due to increasing understanding of the importance of these habitats for ecological functions, including fisheries habitat. Yet, SAV in many regions of the bay are at some of the lowest levels of abundance in recorded history. This has led state management agencies to adopt numerous policies and regulations to protect and restore these valuable communities. The Chesapeake Bay 2000 Agreement highlights SAV by recommitting to the goal of protecting and restoring 114,000 acres, revising existing restoration goals and strategies by 2002, and implementing a strategy to protect and restore SAV by 2002 (Chesapeake Executive Council, 2000). In addition to addressing water quality issues, which are considered the major cause of SAV changes in distribution and abundance, there is increasing concern regarding how direct human impacts such as dredging and boating are affecting SAV.
Aerial photography taken annually for monitoring SAV populations baywide has shown evidence of one form of human-induced damage--boat scarring. We therefore more closely examined photographs taken between 1987 and 2000 to evaluate this disturbance. Scarred sites were identified and assessed for key characteristics including intensity, orientation to shoreline, and scar curvature at each site. In addition Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) enforcement personnel were surveyed for qualitative information on the occurrence of recreational and commercial fishing activities in Virginia’s waters in the vicinity of SAV beds. Aerial
Final Report to the Virginia Saltwater Recreational Fishing Development Fund
Orth, R. J., Fishman, J. R., Tillman, A., Everett, S., & Moore, K. A. (2001) Boat scarring effects on submerged aquatic vegetation in Virginia (year 1). Virginia Institute of Marine Science, William & Mary. https://doi.org/10.25773/w73b-vq30