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Support Ecosystem Conservation and Enhancement

America’s coastal and ocean waters provide an astounding abundance of sustainable living marine resources, which support the most well developed and diverse recreational fisheries in the world. Healthy ecosystems are foundational to the sustainability of these resources and the fisheries that depend upon them. Marine and coastal ecosystems are under pressure from an array of factors such as habitat degradation and loss, invasive species, overfishing, pollution, ocean acidification, and energy development, among others. Building and maintaining high quality recreational fisheries requires a thoughtful and effective science-based conservation, management, and enhancement approach. Actions supporting this guiding principle include:

Focus on watershed-scale habitat activities that leverage partnerships and directly benefit important recreational fisheries and the communities that depend on them.

  • Increase angler engagement in the National Fish Habitat Partnership and NOAA’s regional Habitat Focus Areas to better reflect recreational fishing priorities.
  • Support angler habitat conservation efforts by increasing awareness of potential federal funding and partnership opportunities.
  • Host a workshop to assess the current state of the science, best practices, and potential impacts of artificial reefs.

Take an ecosystem approach to ensuring sustainable fisheries.

  • Support research to improve knowledge of ecosystem linkages between inshore habitats and offshore production of recreationally important fishes.
  • Advance adoption of release survival techniques and best practices to reduce impacts of recreational fisheries on marine ecosystems by communicating research findings to fishery managers and fishermen.
  • Conserve forage fish through targeted habitat restoration projects and by working with partners to provide passage for diadromous forage fish at hydropower dams.
  • Conduct surveys at fishing piers to collect data regarding the incidental catch of non-target species, including sea turtles.

Empower anglers as resource stewards.

  • Develop angler-friendly guidelines facilitating non-lethal deterrence of marine mammals and safe methods for de-hooking sea turtles and other protected species to reduce angler impacts to NOAA Fisheries’ trust resources.
  • Enhance public education efforts and partnerships with states and other federal entities (e.g., NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries) to increase angler awareness of invasive species threats and support angler-based control efforts (e.g., taking lionfish).

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