Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to enforce new sea grass protection rule

Under new legislation aimed at protecting sea grass in Florida's aquatic preserves (which cover 2 million acres in Florida waters) , the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will begin citing boaters who intentionally cause sea grass scarring within an aquatic preserve. There are 41 Aquatic Preserves in Florida (listed here: A list of the preserves appears here: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/programs/aquatic.htm), including the Alligator Harbor Aquatic Preserve directly off the FSUCML.

Sea grass meadows provide critical habitat for many of Florida's recreationally and commercially important species, including fish, crabs, and clams. A single acre of seagrass can support as many as 40,000 fish and 50 million invertebrates. Sea grass also provides critical habitat for wading birds, manatees and sea turtles. Further, it improves water quality, filtering nutrients from land-based industrial discharge and stormwater runoff, and helps stabilize ocean-bottom areas , making them less vulnerable to intense wave action from currents and storms.