Seagrass is a rooted, flowering plant found in New York's coastal waters. Seagrass - most notably, eelgrass - provides invaluable spawning, nursery, and maturation habitat for several important commercially and recreationally fish and shellfish. Seagrass also improves water quality, is an integral part of marine nutrient cycles, and is an important component of the marine and coastal food webs.

While historic seagrass acreage in New York has not been documented, old photographs and records indicate that there may have been as much as 200,000 acres in 1930; today, only 21,803 acres remain. Challenges facing seagrasses include nutrient-heavy runoff and other discharges, decreased water quality and clarity, large phytoplankton blooms, habitat degradation, fishing gear and boating activities, and climate change.

In 2006, the state Legislature established the New York State Seagrass Task Force and charged the group with developing recommendations to restore, research, preserve, and manage seagrass. The Task Force has been researching, monitoring and analyzing seagrass threats, trends, and data. State agencies, recreational and commercial fishing and boating industries, estuary programs, academia, municipalities, and not-for-profit entities worked together to develop the draft recommendations that, when final, will serve as a blueprint for efforts to protect and restore New York’s seagrasses

The "Final Report of the New York State Seagrass Task Force: Recommendations to the New York State Governor and Legislature” is now available for review at http://www.dec. on DEC’s website. The recommendations include reducing nutrient discharges to coastal and marine waters which directly and indirectly threaten seagrass health, increasing public awareness of the importance of seagrasses, and establishing water quality standards to protect seagrass habitat.

View List of Seagrass Taskforce Members (.pdf)

View NYS Senate Legislation (.pdf)

new! Seagrass Task Force Threats Assessment (.pdf)

Task Force Initiatives
Mapping Meeting (no agenda)
Final Task Force Meeting before public comment on report
Public Comment Opportunities
Nassau County: Baldwin Public Library, 2385 Grand Avenue, Baldwin, NY 11510
6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Suffolk County: Riverhead Town Hall, 200 Howell Avenue, Riverhead, New York 11901
5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
NYC: National Park Service Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Contact Station, Gateway National Recreation Area
3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Final Report December 2009: Click Here for .pdf


New York Seagrass Experts Meeting

In an effort to support the development of efficient and effective management recommendations for seagrass habitat, the NYSDEC and other partnering stakeholders organized a meeting of local and national seagrass experts to identify research priorities and information gaps that should be filled. This “New York Seagrass Experts Meeting” was held on Tuesday May 22nd, 2007 in East Setauket, NY. The Proceedings and priority recommendations resulting from this meeting are available for viewing below. This effort was supported by NYSDEC, New York Sea Grant, The Nature Conservancy, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the New York Estuary Programs among others.

Seagrass Experts Meeting Attendees

Seagrass Experts Meeting Attendees (Photo credit: Barbara Branca NY Sea Grant). Meeting Participants (L to R): Front row: Jack Mattice (NY Sea Grant), Bradley Peterson (Stony Brook University), Kenneth Heck, Jr. (University of South Alabama), A. Coolidge Churchill (Adelphi University), J. Kirk Cochran (Stony Brook University), Marci Bortman (The Nature Conservancy). Middle rows: Paul Carlson (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission), Christopher Gobler (Stony Brook University), Tom Halavik (US Fish & Wildlife Service), Corey Garza (Long Island Sound Study Office), Chris Pickerell (Cornell Cooperative Extension), Jeffrey Fullmer (South Shore Estuary Reserve Office), Fred Short (University of New Hampshire), Karen Chytalo (NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation), Chris Clapp (The Nature Conservancy), Carol Pesch (US EPA), Kim Petersen (Cornell Cooperative Extension), Laura Stephenson (NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation). Back row: Cornelia Schlenk (NY Sea Grant), Mark Fonseca (NOAA National Ocean Service), William Dennison (University of Maryland), Steve Schott (Cornell Cooperative Extension), Carl LoBue (The Nature Conservancy), Ronald Paulsen (Suffolk County Dept. of Health Services).


Orth, R.J., T.J.B. Carruthers, W.C. Dennison, C.M. Duarte, J.W. Fourqurean, W. James, H.K. Heck Jr, A.R. Hughes, G.A. Kendrick, W.J. Kenworthy, and others. 2006. A global crisis for seagrass ecosystems. Bioscience 56:987–996.



© 2010 / Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program

SeagrassLI Home CCE Suffolk Home