LIS Eelgrass Collaborative

The Long Island Sound (LIS) Eelgrass Collaborative formed in 2023 as a CT-NY bi-state initiative to implement elements of the 2022 Eelgrass Management and Restoration Strategy.  The Strategy provides guidance for short and long-term actions that should be taken to manage and restore eelgrass meadows in LIS and acts as a resource for other estuaries in the region facing similar issues.

The Collaborative is funded by the Long Island Sound Study (LISS) and facilitated by the CT National Estuarine Research Reserve since our reserve encompass 53% of Connecticut’s existing eelgrass beds and 37% of Long Island Sound and Fishers Island Sound’s (New York plus Connecticut) eelgrass beds. (2022 CT NERR Management Plan).  Our Coastal Training Program supports collaborative management initiatives and our Research Program has active projects and partnerships investigating LIS eelgrass restoration and monitoring.

While historically, eelgrass meadows were abundant throughout the Sound, today eelgrass is restricted to the shallow areas of eastern Long Island Sound and Fishers Island Sound.  The LISS Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan's Thriving Habitats and Abundant Wildlife theme includes the ecosystem target Eelgrass Extent with a goal to restore and maintain an additional 2,000 acres of eelgrass by 2035 from a 2012 baseline of 1,893 acres. Eelgrass meadows (Zostera marina L.), an essential and valuable coastal submerged aquatic vegetation species, is identified as a priority habitat by LISS.  Great background (and more!) on these topics is described in a new 2023 LIS Seagrass StoryMap.

The Collaborative will have four meetings a year for two years, with three being virtual and one hosted in-person each year.  This group will be an extension of people involved in writing the Strategy and others working on eelgrass management and restoration in the bi-state area.

Based on the Strategy, the goals of the Collaborative are to:

  • Identify management and regulatory barriers and recommendations for eelgrass restoration;
  • Coordinate with other regional efforts to better understand the interactions between eelgrass and aquaculture;
  • Provide input on other LISS funded eelgrass projects; and
  • Improve bi-state collaboration by sharing information, identifying research gaps, funding opportunities, and networking