Friday January 13, 2023

Pew Charitable Trusts

West Coast kelp forests and eelgrass meadows are critical allies in fighting climate change—and they also provide essential habitat for commercially and recreationally important fish and shellfish, which in turn help sustain coastal communities. But these vital nearshore ecosystems are disappearing because of shoreline development, pollution, warming oceans, and sea-level rise.

Amid these threats, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (the Foundation) have joined forces to help natural resource managers by identifying and disseminating science-based tools to better protect and restore submerged aquatic vegetation.

One key challenge in coastal conservation and management is the lack of information needed to accurately characterize the ecological value of kelp and eelgrass. With that in mind, Pew, NOAA Fisheries, and the Foundation plan to work with scientists, Tribes, state and federal agencies, and key stakeholders to evaluate tools used to assess the role that submerged aquatic vegetation plays in the ecosystem. Having a better scientific understanding of these habitats’ value will help managers make decisions that preserve—or, if needed, replace—the critical ecosystem services that kelp and eelgrass provide.

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