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Old 28-03-2022, 18:46   #46
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Join Date: Mar 2022
Location: Port Townsend, WA
Boat: Folkes 42 steel hull cutter
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Re: Anchoring in Eelgrass protection areas - PNW

Hello All,

Thank you for this great exchange of information about eelgrass conservation and protection. I appreciate your suggestions, perspectives and ideas. I am a sailor in the waters of WA, BC, and now SE AK. I am also a member of our local Jefferson County WA Marine Resources Committee, and the voluntary no anchoring zones in our local waters have been in place since 2004. The program has has good success - and we're always looking for ways to improve. I knew fellow cruisers and sailors would help us expand our perspective on reaching boaters. Thank you for that!

Eelgrass is protected in WA state. I've included a quote below from a report done in 2014 by The Pacific Northwest National Laboratories - on the conservation and protection of eelgrass in Puget Sound.

Because of the recognized ecological value that seagrass provides as an integral component of nearshore food webs and shoreline processes, protecting, conserving, and restoring its habitat has been recommended by numerous global and local entities. In Washington State, regulations protect eelgrass because of its ecological functions and the ecological value it provides to nearshore systems. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) designates areas of eelgrass as habitats of special concern (WAC 220-110-250) under its statutory authority over hydraulic projects (RCW 77.55.021). The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) designates areas of eelgrass as critical habitat (WAC 173-26-221) under its statutory authority to implement Washington State’s Shoreline Management Act (RCW 90.58). The Puget Sound Partnership’s Action Agenda includes the goal of increasing eelgrass area by 20 percent by 2020 ( A 20 percent increase in eelgrass habitat in Puget Sound would be a 4,000-hectare increase from the baseline area documented between 2000 and 2008 (DNR 2014).
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Old 29-03-2022, 17:29   #47
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Re: Anchoring in Eelgrass protection areas - PNW

The State of Texas regulates seagrass protection, notably the Motors Up requirement for boaters to keep the propeller from disturbing the grass meadow.

Seagrass Regulation Authority
Property of the State
Parks and Wildlife Code, Title 1, Subchapter B.

Section 1.011. Property of the State.
(a)-(b) DNA
(c) All the beds and bottoms and the products of the beds and bottoms of the public rivers, bayous, lagoons, creeks, lakes, bays, and inlets in this state and of that part of the Gulf of Mexico within the jurisdiction of this state are the property of this state. The state may permit the use of the waters and bottoms and the taking of the products of the bottoms and waters. (d) The Parks and Wildlife Department shall regulate the taking and conservation of fish, oysters, shrimp, crabs, turtles, terrapins, mussels, lobsters, and all other kinds and forms of marine life, or sand, gravel, marl, mud shell, and all other kinds of shell in accordance with the authority vested in it by this code.

Governing Parks and Other Recreational Areas
Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 13, Subchapter B. Regulations

Section 13.101. Authorization.
The commission may promulgate regulations governing the health, safety and protection of persons and property in state parks, historic areas, scientific areas, or forts under the control of the department, including public water with the state parks, historic sites, scientific areas, and forts.
Section 13.102. Regulation.
The regulations may govern:
(1) the conservation, preservation, and use of state property whether natural features or constructed facilities; (2) the abusive, disruptive, or destructive conduct of persons;
(3) the activities of park users including camping, swimming, boating, fishing or other recreational activities
(4) – (6) DNA

Scientific Areas
Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 81, Subchapter F.

Section 81.501. Creation of Scientific Areas.

The department may promote and establish a state system of scientific areas for the purposes of education, scientific research, and preservation of flora and fauna of scientific or educational value.

Powers and Duties
Section 81.502.

To the extent necessary to carry out the purposes of this subchapter, the department may:

determine the acceptance or rejection of state scientific areas proposed for incorporation into a state system of scientific areas;
make and publish all rules and regulations necessary for the management and protection of scientific areas;
cooperate and contract with any agencies, organizations, or
individuals for the purposes of this subchapter;
accept gifts, grants, devises, and bequests of money, securities, or
property to be used in accordance with the tenor of such gift, grant,
devise, or bequest;
formulate policies for the selection, acquisition, management, and
protection of state scientific areas;
negotiate for and approve the dedication of state scientific areas as
part of the system;
advocate research, investigations, interpretive programs, and
publication and dissemination of information pertaining to state
scientific areas and related areas of scientific value;
acquire interests in real property by purchase; and
hold and manage lands within the system.

Seagrass Protection
A Summary of Seagrass Management in Texas
There are an estimated 235,000 acres of seagrass beds found along the Texas coast. Seagrass is valuable habitat for fish and wildlife and provides many benefits to the entire ecosystem. Benefits include stabilizing the sediment; oxygenating the water column; providing food and shelter for marine life; reducing harmful bacteria; and reducing greenhouse gasses.

Restricted to growing in shallow areas due to their dependence on sunlight, seagrass is particularly susceptible to boat propellers. Propeller scarring from boats passing through seagrass meadows can have devastating consequences for the marine organisms using seagrass as habitat. Research from the late 1990s showed that an area in Redfish Bay near Aransas Pass had already suffered extensive to severe scarring from boat propellers.

Due to the damage found in this area and in response to TPWD’s 1999 Seagrass Conservation Plan of Texas, Redfish Bay was proclaimed a state scientific area in 2000 which includes 32,000 acres. For the next five years, voluntary "prop-up" zones were established to help boaters avoid further damaging seagrass habitat in the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area (RBSSA). But when voluntary efforts by boaters failed, mandatory regulations were created in 2006 that prohibited the uprooting of seagrass in RBSSA.

The TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division routinely monitored RBSSA to evaluate the effects of new regulations on seagrass. Fortunately, it was found that a significant reduction in propeller scarring occurred after mandatory regulations were passed in this area. Because of these promising results, in 2013 the Texas Legislature passed a statewide law making it illegal to uproot seagrass coastwide in Texas.

Read more about the regulation authority.

The History of Seagrass Regulations
In June 2000, Redfish Bay was designated a state scientific area by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission to protect and study native seagrasses. The RBSSA contains the northernmost extensive stands of seagrass on the Texas coast. This includes 14,000 acres of submerged seagrass beds with all five species of seagrass found in Texas present. The RBSSA is a component of both the Aransas and Corpus Christi ecosystems and has about 50 square miles of prime fishing habitat. In three shallow and popular fishing areas, voluntary ‘prop-up’ zones were marked with posts and signs visible to boaters in the area from 2000 through 2005. However, these zones were largely ineffective in reducing seagrass damage.

By May 1, 2006 the RBSSA ‘no-uprooting’ mandatory regulation took effect. This approach to protecting seagrass provided continued access to the entire area by the public but put the responsibility on the boat operator to boat responsibly. To help define the RBSSA, a number of signs have been placed in the water so that boaters can see the boundaries. In addition, information and boater regulations have been posted at local boat ramps. Boaters can see the boat ramp signs and read the text of the rules for boating in the area. There is a large downloadable map of the RBSSA that shows 34 cut points to access the area while minimizing the impact to seagrasses. There are also two tables of the latitudes and longitudes of each of those cut points that can be printed. One table is in degrees minutes and decimal minutes. The other is in degrees minutes and seconds.

After four years of enforcing the mandatory 'no-prop’ regulation in RBSSA, a reduction in propeller scarring was achieved. This prompted the Texas Legislature to make it illegal to uproot seagrass coastwide beginning in September 2013. To educate the public about this new law, outreach efforts focused on teaching boaters to ‘Lift, Drift, Pole and Troll’ when boating through seagrass covered areas. Signs have been posted coastwide at marina and boat launch locations to remind boaters about the regulation and provide boating techniques to minimize negatively impacting seagrasses.

In addition, TPWD has received donations from CCA, The Galveston Bays Foundation, and Lamar Signs to post billboards in several coastal locations in Texas. The Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine has also graciously donated space in several issues for the ‘Uprooting Seagrass is Illegal ’ advertisement. Since the inception of the Seagrass Protection Program that TPWD embarked on in 2005, Coastal Fisheries staff have participated in 629 outreach events, distributed over 75,000 brochures, made over 26,000 one-on-one contacts with the public for an overall total of 82.18 million outreach impressions made.
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anchor, anchoring, grass, PNW, rot

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