A Message from Sam Rauch, Head of NOAA Fisheries
Healthy habitat: the foundation for abundant fisheries and marine life
At NOAA Fisheries, we are charged with taking care of our nation’s fish and living marine resources. But healthy marine life depends on healthy habitat—the places where these animals feed, grow, reproduce, and raise their young.
NOAA Fisheries is engaged in a range of activities to protect and restore these important places and to educate people about the role of habitat in supporting marine life. Our efforts are paying off around the country—
- Coho and Chinook salmon populations are struggling in California, but thanks to our work with partners on habitat restoration efforts, they are starting to make a comeback—growing six times larger than before the project, making them more likely to survive their ocean journey. More…
- NOAA and partners have had remarkable success restoring eelgrass habitat and scallop and oyster populations in Virginia’s Seaside Bays. Our efforts to plant 250 acres of eelgrass allowed nature to take over—the eelgrass has spread to 5,000 acres. Experts estimate that within 10 years, bay scallops reintroduced into the area could grow to support a lucrative recreational fishery. More…
- Our habitat consultation efforts—one of our responsibilities under the Magnuson-Stevens Act Fishery Conservation and Management Act—result in protecting essential fish habitat around the country. For instance, we helped protect more than 100 acres of off-shore essential fish habitat for Atlantic cod—an economically, ecologically, and culturally significant New England fishery. More…
NOAA is also implementing the Habitat Blueprint to increase collaboration among habitat activities across NOAA and with partners. It provides a framework to improve habitat for multiple NOAA objectives: fisheries, marine life, and coastal communities. We’ll establish habitat focus areas to prioritize long-term science and conservation efforts; use a more integrative approach for planning and conducting quality habitat science; and evaluate how we can strengthen policy and legislation to enhance our ability to achieve meaningful habitat conservation.
As a first step, we are conducting regional habitat initiatives to explore new collaborative approaches for habitat science and conservation. These efforts are helping us test aspects of the approaches within the Habitat Blueprint.
By building new partnerships and acting strategically, we can ensure that our coastal and marine habitats continue to sustain productive fisheries and protected resources for generations to come.
To learn more about NOAA Fisheries’ habitat activities I encourage you to visit our new habitat conservation portal page, which will link you to feature stories and the great habitat work that happens in our regions and science centers.
Samuel D. Rauch III
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs,
performing the functions and duties of the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries