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Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Conservation

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Conservation


Submerged vegetation is one of the most productive marine ecosystems known worldwide.  These areas provide chemical cycling, physical stabilization of sediments, food, and shelter to valuable nearshore communities as well as a noted blue carbon sink. SAV is one of many types of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH), which is defined as those waters and substrate necessary to fish and invertebrates (especially crustaceans) for spawning, breeding, feeding or growth to maturity.   Consequently, healthy SAV beds form the basis for healthy stocks of fish and invertebrate species, successful fisheries, and long-term sustainability and are one of the most important habitats the Marine Resources Administration manages.  Multiple commercial/recreational species managed in New Jersey rely on SAV for one or more life stages, such as: American Eel, American Lobster, Atlantic Croaker, Atlantic Herring, Atlantic Sturgeon, Black Sea Bass, Scup, Spot, Striped Bass, Summer Flounder, and Tautog.

SAV resources are declining worldwide and in New Jersey, making their preservation ever more important.   The Department is working towards comprehensive surveys of SAV resources to better understand the state-wide status.

The Coastal Zone Management Rules at N.J.A.C. 7:7 describe limitations to common waterfront development projects in effort to conserve the resource.

More information about submerged aquatic vegetation can be found below:


  • rooted aquatic plant that grows completely underwater except for brief exposure at low tides


  • varies on plant species


  • fresh and saltwater ecosystems


  • 75% of seagrass beds in New Jersey occur in the Barnegat Bay estuary
  • Dominate seagrass species in Barnegat Bay is eelgrass

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 420
Trenton, NJ 08625
Last Update: July 20th, 2022