NOAA Fisheries announces $8 million in funding for habitat restoration in southeastern states
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October 22, 2013
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) has announced $8 million in funding for habitat restoration projects in Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Alabama to restore threatened coral populations and marshes and to remove marine debris.
In addition, this funding is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional contributions for this work from project partners.
“Our wetlands are disappearing, but we’re not willing to sit on the sidelines and watch it happen,” said Leslie Craig, Southeast Regional Supervisor for NOAA’s Restoration Center. “The cost of investing in wetland restoration is dwarfed by the value wetlands provide to commercial and recreational fisheries and the protection they offer to people and property.”
Recent successes show that restoring habitat can help halt the decline of fish populations and boost the commercial and recreational catch of fish, shrimp and crab: http://www.habitat.noaa.gov/pdf/RAE_fisheries.pdf. Wetlands also help absorb hurricane storm surges, protecting people and property along what are often densely-populated areas of the coast.
Coral planting, reduction of land-based pollution to protect coral reefs, and marine debris removal are also key strategies in NOAA’s investment portfolio designed to improve habitat conditions in the Southeast in order to boost the productivity of commercial and recreational fisheries.
The money slated for these targeted restoration projects is intended to deal with long-term habitat decline and is separate, but complementary, to restoration projects funded through the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment court settlements or the RESTORE Act.
- Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana ($7 million): for engineering and design to restore 1370 acres of marsh in western coastal Louisiana. This funding is awarded through the Coastal Wetlands Planning Protection and Restoration Act and covers 3 projects.
- St. Johns Water Management District ($250,000): to launch restoration of over 2000 acres of marsh, oyster reef and shoreline forage and nursery habitat along the northeast coast of Florida. The project will benefit a variety of marine life including fish in the snapper-grouper complex, snook, red drum, and tarpon, spiny lobsters and shrimp. In addition, this project may benefit endangered species such as sea turtles and smalltooth sawfish.
- North Carolina Coastal Federation, Inc. ($35,000): to work with fishermen to create new oyster reefs from recycled derelict crab pots in North Carolina.
- Coral Restoration Foundation ($200,000): to begin planting thousands of elkhorn and staghorn corals in the Florida Keys, both of which are currently listed as "threatened" and proposed for listing as "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act
- Ridge to Reefs, Protectors de Cuencas, and Horsley Witten Group ($312,000): for watershed planning and restoration efforts in the Guánica and Culebra watersheds in Puerto Rico. These efforts will target and reduce land-based pollution to protect coral reef habitats.
- University of San Diego ($76,000): to study the effectiveness of watershed restoration in reducing land-based sedimentation to US Virgin Islands coral reefs.
- Coastal Cleanup Corporation ($17,000): to remove marine debris at eight turtle nesting beaches along Elliot Key in Biscayne Bay, FL.
- Corporation for the Conservation of the San Juan Bay Estuary ($40,000): for marine debris clean-up and education in Condado Lagoon.
- Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium/Dauphin Island Sea Lab ($100,000): to remove 36 vessels or other large debris from Mobile Bay, AL.
NOAA’s Restoration Center, which provided the funding for these projects and which will provide technical oversight as they go into construction, has been working in the Southeast to restore habitat since 1996. To date, the Restoration Center has constructed 678 projects, restoring nearly 50,000 acres of marine fish habitat and opening over 280 stream miles for fish passage in the Southeast with the help of state, federal and nonprofit partners.
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