Co-Chairs: Kathleen MacGregor (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

Karen Filbee-Dexter (University of Western Australia)

Christina Bonsell (Marine Science Institute, University of Texas at Austin)

Philippe Archambault (Université Laval)

Shallow subtidal marine areas have high potential productivity and diversity worldwide. In northern waters, these areas are often dominated by habitat-forming macrophytes such as kelp or seagrass, which form dense assemblages which are not only a phenomenal source of primary productivity, but also create three-dimensional structure that provides habitat for a wide range of organisms. These underwater beds and forests act as both nursery grounds and critical foraging habitat for many harvested species. Additionally, marine macrophytes, particularly macroalgae, are themselves harvested and provide both cultural and economic benefits for maritime communities. Both economic and scientific advances and development are increasingly focusing on marine macrophytes, both to understand their current distribution and the functioning of their associated communities, to explore the possibilities for harvest and exploitation, and to address possible future changes in these critical habitats.