A study by the US Geological Survey, the University of New Hampshire, and the Maine Department of Marine Resources showed that commercial mussel dragging poses a severe and long-lasting threat to eelgrass (Zostera marina). Dragging can damage large areas, with individual drag scars up to 79 acres in size found in Maine eelgrass beds. Dragging activity uproots eelgrass plants completely, removing leaves, rhizomes, and roots. Two independent methods were used to predict the rate of eelgrass recovery in heavily dragged areas. Under the best environmental conditions, complete revegetation of a dragged area would require an average of 11 years. Under conditions less favorable for eelgrass growth, such as reduced water quality, dragged areas could require more than 20 years to recover. Protection of eelgrass from commercial shellfish dragging will preserve important coastal habitat.
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Negative effects of commercial mussel dragging on eelgrass beds in Maine