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A Message from Eileen Sobeck, Head of NOAA Fisheries

Habitat Conservation—Why It Matters
April 14, 2014

I'm excited to celebrate my first 'Habitat Month' here at NOAA Fisheries. All month long, we'll be focusing on the critical connection between habitat and sustainable fish populations. And we'll be highlighting habitat issues and success stories from around the country. You can learn about fish returning to restored habitat, see a brand new coral species discovered on our deep-sea expeditions, and watch new videos of habitat restoration in action. But, why does habitat matter? 

Habitat provides important feeding and breeding grounds for fish. Without healthy habitat, we can't sustain the fisheries that will feed Americans now and into the future. Habitat conservation is also one of the best means we have for recovering threatened and endangered species. However, many of our most valuable habitats, such as coastal wetlands, are being degraded or lost at an astounding rate. The NOAA and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service report, “Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Coastal Watersheds of the Conterminous United States 2004-2009,” found that we lost wetlands at an average rate of 80,000 acres a year in that timeframe. Wetland loss threatens not only our nation's sustainable fisheries and protected species, but our supply of clean water, and the stability of shorelines in the face of climate change. 

Through NOAA's Habitat Blueprint, we are pooling all available resources to target habitat conservation where our fisheries need it most and taking action in priority habitats. This year, we've announced four new Habitat Focus Areas—two in the Pacific Islands and two in the Great Lakes—where we'll be focusing our efforts to address the challenges of coastal and marine habitat loss and degradation. Please join us online and learn more about NOAA's ongoing work and successes related to habitat conservation and restoration.

Eileen Sobeck
Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries