What We Do
We protect and restore habitat to sustain fisheries, recover protected species, and maintain resilient coastal ecosystems and communities.
Our goals are to:
Conserve habitat for managed fisheries and protected resources
Restore fisheries and protected resources impacted by oil and chemical spills
Increase the resilience of coastal ecosystems, communities, and economies through habitat conservation
For us, conservation means protection and restoration. We protect healthy habitat by prioritizing our work to address the biggest threats. We restore degraded or injured habitat by removing dams and other barriers, reconnecting coastal wetlands, and rebuilding coral and oyster reefs to ensure fish have access to high quality areas to live.
Our approach to habitat conservation is collaborative and uses sound science in support of our major mandates like the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Endangered Species Act, and the Oil Pollution Act. We focus our efforts for the benefit of marine resources and coastal communities. And, we work in partnerships at all levels—with local, state, federal governments, private entities, and non-governmental organizations—toward shared goals and enhanced understanding.
Healthy habitats support fish, clean water, and recreation, but they are declining due to stressors like pollution, development, and extreme weather. We strive to address these issues through our programs and activities which directly support the nation’s communities and economy. Our major focus areas include:
We work to increase fisheries productivity by restoring coastal habitat and supporting the recovery of protected species that rely on healthy habitat to breed, eat, rest, and grow. Since 1992, we have provided more than $750 million to implement more 3,300 coastal habitat restoration projects.
Fish habitat is vulnerable to pollution and other threats, but some problems can be minimized or avoided by protecting habitats first. We work to increase fisheries productivity through supporting Essential Fish Habitat, fish passage, and deep sea coral research.
Improving the Chesapeake Bay
The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office focuses its science, service, and stewardship capabilities on improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay and ensuring its sustainable use for generations to come.
In her role as the Director of the Office of Habitat Conservation, Pat Montanio oversees the protection and restoration of habitats vital to our nation’s marine life. She first held this position from 2006 to 2011, and rejoined the office in 2015. She has more than 30 years of experience at NOAA. Previously, she was Director of NOAA’s Office of Program Planning and Integration, Deputy Director of NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration within the National Ocean Service, and Deputy Director of the NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources.
Carrie Selberg joined the Office of Habitat Conservation as Deputy Director in 2015. Ms. Selberg was the NOAA Fisheries Chief of Staff from 2013 to 2015. She joined NOAA in 2005 as a legislative specialist following five years at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Ms. Selberg participated in NOAA’s Leadership Development Competencies Program—as well as the National Conservation Leadership Institute. She has a degree in Environmental Studies from Connecticut College and a Masters in Environmental Management from Duke University.