From cold, glacier-fed rivers in Alaska to salt marshes in Florida, fish habitats take on many forms and occur in coastal and inland regions of the U.S. However, many of these habitats are threatened or degraded, leaving fish without a suitable home. The National Fish Habitat Partnership works collaboratively with many partners to reverse fish habitat declines across the U.S.
The National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) is a science-based, state-led initiative to protect, restore, and maintain America’s aquatic ecosystems. NFHP promotes and unites a network of 20 Fish Habitat Partnerships among federal and state agencies, conservation organizations and foundations, and individuals which aim to advance NFHP’s four main goals at multiple geographic scales including:
- Protecting and maintaining intact and healthy aquatic systems.
- Preventing further degradation of fish habitats.
- Reversing declines in the quality and quantity of aquatic habitats.
- Increasing the quality and quantity of fish habitats that support a broad natural diversity of fish and other aquatic species.
NFHP is guided by the National Fish Habitat Action Plan which provides a strategy to address aquatic habitat from the Nation’s interior to the oceans. NOAA is a committed partner in implementing the Action Plan to achieve healthy ecosystems, sustainable living marine resources, and resilient coastal communities through innovative solutions, management flexibility, adaptability, and science excellence. As a founding member, NOAA provides national and regional leadership, funding, and technical expertise for coastal and marine activities that support its mission.
Supported activities include habitat studies, science symposiums, restoration projects, and on-the-ground habitat protection. In 2018, NOAA’s Office of Habitat Conservation and the NOAA Fisheries Recreational Fishing Initiative partnered to fund an on-the-ground project with the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership. The project will restore oyster reefs within the Rachel Carson National Estuarine Research Reserve in Back Sound, North Carolina. Reefs will be constructed to promote marsh recovery and will support recreational species including red and black drum, black sea bass, Atlantic croaker, blue crabs, and shrimp.
Many of the NFHP’s Fish Habitat Partnerships have a close connection with the recreational fishing community. NFHP and NOAA also collaborate with external partners to implement NOAA’s National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Implementation Plan to foster, support, and enhance a broadly accessible and diverse array of sustainable saltwater recreational fisheries.
Overall, NFHP unites a network of diverse partners with a wide array of expertise to protect, restore and enhance the nation’s fish and aquatic communities. Learn more about the National Fish Habitat Partnership and their first ten years of success.