Wetlands—including marshes, mangroves, swamps, deltas, and floodplains—provide valuable benefits to fish, people, and communities. They’re habitat for the fish we eat, are often the front line of protecting coastal communities from storms, and support cleaner water.
But, they’re quickly disappearing. For example, the West Coast of the United States has lost 85 percent of its estuaries. Louisiana’s coast has lost more than 2,000 square miles of wetlands—an area the size of Delaware— since the 1930s. To help reverse these trends, NOAA works with partners to protect and restore these habitats so wetlands can continue to provide their critical benefits.
1. Wetlands Support the Economy
Coastal wetlands provide homes to more than half of the $5.6 billion commercial seafood harvest in the United States. Wetland habitat also benefits recreational fisheries which contribute hundreds of thousands of jobs to the economy. Americans use wetlands for other types of recreation too, like kayaking and watching nature. These activities draw locals and tourists to contribute to the multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation economy.
2. More Wetlands = More Fish
Endangered and threatened fish like salmon, trout, and steelhead rely on wetlands as a safe place for juveniles to feed and grow. Commercially and recreationally important species like blue crabs, oysters, clams, shrimp, and red drum, rely on coastal wetlands during some or all of their lifecycle.