HABITAT CONSERVATION IN THE GREATER ATLANTIC REGION
Protection, management, and enhancement of the nation's marine fishery resources
in the Greater Atlantic waters.
Hiding Cod (Credit: M. Lawrence, NOAA/SBNMS)
NOAA Fisheries Habitat Conservation Division is working to protect, restore, and promote stewardship of marine, estuarine, and riverine habitat to support our nation’s fisheries for future generations. By conserving coastal and marine habitats, we directly contribute to the goals of other NOAA programs including protection and recovery of protected species, maintenance of sustainable fisheries, sustainable management of the nation’s coastal regions, and increased resiliency of coastal ecosystems and communities in a changing climate. Our vision is for healthy and self-sustaining coastal and marine habitats that support vital ecosystem function, including abundant living marine resources, human uses, and resilient coastal communities.
We focus on two principal activities:
- Identification and conservation of Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) through fishery management; and
- Consultation with Federal agencies that may adversely impact EFH and other living marine resources by their actions.
- Identify and describe Essential Fish Habitat for each managed species using the best available science;
- Incorporate EFH in fisheries management plans;
- Determine fishing impacts on habitat and the significance of those impacts; and
- Recommend steps to minimize impacts (e.g. restricting certain fishing gears in specific areas).
We also conduct environmental reviews for development projects proposed or licensed by federal agencies, such as requests for permits to fill wetlands and waterways; dredge and/or deposit material in nearshore or ocean waters; build a wide variety of coastal structures; install new energy infrastructure; and build, modify or remove dams that impede fish passage. Environmental reviews assess the biological effects of these human activities and the value of coastal habitats, and include conservation recommendations for reducing habitat loss and degradation.
View our strategic plan.
Emerging Issues and Priorities
Interest in large-scale energy projects such as wind farms, non-conventional hydrokinetic power generation, expansion of natural gas and electrical lines, re-licensing of nuclear power plants, oil or natural gas transport tankers and pipelines, deepening major ports, and installing offshore terminal facilities present new and significant challenges for us. We are increasingly involved in review and consultation for these types of projects.
In addition, the Greater Atlantic Region has an abundance of hydropower dams throughout most of its river systems. As these dams come up for license renewal, we provide recommendations for creating safe and effective fish passage.
Threats to habitat and other living marine resources from human activities often can be avoided or minimized if activities or development projects are designed with or utilize existing best management practices.
Who We Coordinate With
Our work entails coordinating with state and federal natural resource and regulatory agencies on a variety of projects. We coordinate with these permitting authorities to promote effective stewardship by providing technical advice and conservation recommendations for activities they are funding, authorizing, or proposing which have potential to adversely affect fish habitat and other living aquatic resources. We consult with agencies such as, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and NOAA. In addition, we work with local partners to promote environmental stewardship and protect fish habitat.
We play an advisory role to review proposed projects and other actions which may affect fish habitat and other living marine resources and make recommendations for conserving those resources. We undertake these activities pursuant to the following authorities:
- Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act
- Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act
- Federal Power Act
- Federal Energy Policy Act
- Deep Water Port Act
- National Environmental Policy Act
For more information on NOAA Fisheries Habitat Conservation, please contact us at:
Habitat Conservation Division
55 Great Republic Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930