Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 4. Conservation And Natural Resources
Agency 20. Marine Resources Commission
Chapter 337. Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (Sav) Transplantation Guidelines

4VAC20-337-20. Background.

A. Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) is an important natural resource that provides a variety of ecological functions, including stabilizing sediments, physically baffling wave energy, reducing water column turbidity, recycling water column nutrients, and providing high levels of primary and secondary production. SAV is considered to be of extremely high habitat value to commercially and recreationally important species of fish and shellfish, and is considered to be the primary settling habitat for young blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay. SAV is estimated to have historically covered approximately 600,000 acres of the entire Bay. However, severe declines were noted in the 1960s and 1970s, likely due to increasing nutrient and sediment inputs from development within the watershed. Natural revegetation has occurred in some areas, yet many areas remain either completely unvegetated, sparsely vegetated, or contain lower diversity of species than what occurred historically. As of 1998, SAV covered only about 63,000 acres of the Bay.

B. The commission's Subaqueous Guidelines, in effect since 1976, stress the need to avoid impacts to SAV when permitting projects over state-owned bottom. In addition, since 1987, various governmental agencies around the Bay have adopted policies and laws to help protect and restore SAV from further loss. In an effort to mitigate the unavoidable impacts of permitted projects on SAV and assist interested parties in designing SAV restoration projects, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) has developed general and specific criteria for transplantation activities designed to enhance or restore the Bay's SAV resources. These guidelines are designed to ensure that any such proposed activities have the highest likelihood of success while minimizing the potential for adversely impacting this sensitive and valuable marine resource.

Statutory Authority

§ 28.2-203 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 17, Issue 5, eff. November 1, 2000.

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