Florida waters contain the largest sea grass meadow in the world. Approximately 2.2 million acres of seagrass beds
have been mapped in nearshore Florida waters, but the total area of seagrasses in our state's coastal waters is declining.
This extremely valuable resource provides ecological services worth over $40 billion each year. Seagrass is important in
providing many functions that contribute to a healthy marine ecosystem.
Florida is a world renowned fishing destination, and many economically important commercial and recreational fish and
shellfish species depend on healthly seagrass beds for critical stages of their life cycle. Recreational fishing activity
injected more than $4.5 billion into Florida communities in the form of retail sales, employment compensation and business
earnings in 2006.
Unfortunately, seagrass beds are susceptible to injuries such as boat propeller scaring and vessel groundings. Florida has
nearly one million registered boats, and boating activities can severely impact or completely wipe out localized seagrass
meadows. Resource managers, scientists, and private industry consultants work together to restore damaged areas and
investigate new seagrass restoration products and methods. Coastal eutrophication, the process by which water is depleted of
oxygen due to overgrowth of competing smaller plants, impacts sea grass as well. Eutrophication is a major concern among
leading marine and estuarine scientists because murky water limits sunlight which slows seagrass growth. Major efforts to
improve and restore water quality have resulted in seagrass expansion in some Florida estuaries.