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New Projects to Engage Recreational Anglers and Restore Habitat

May 31, 2019

More than $120,000 will support habitat restoration projects in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alaska.


NOAA is announcing the funding of three projects that will restore coastal habitat and enhance recreational fisheries engagement in coastal Fish Habitat Partnerships. Saltwater recreational fishing is an American pastime and important economic driver, and anglers make critical contributions to the conservation of fish habitat nationwide. The projects will actively engage anglers in habitat restoration efforts that will benefit coastal communities and economies.

In the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) will work with anglers from Coastal Conservation Association chapters to restore and monitor oyster reefs in four coastal counties over two years. SCDNR will rely on angler expertise to identify coastal recreational fishing areas that are ecologically suited to and would most benefit from restored oyster reefs. Oyster shells will be collected from the local restaurant industry as part of SCDNR’s oyster shell recycling program, and will be used to construct oyster reefs. The project will provide habitat for several recreationally important species through the Southeast region including, red and black drum, flounder, gag grouper, bluefish, blue crabs, oysters, and shrimp.

In the Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership, the North Carolina Coastal Federation will work with angler volunteers to restore oyster reef and salt marsh habitat in Stump Sound. Oyster reef lost to dredging, shoreline hardening, and high harvest pressure will be restored through the creation of new reef habitat; and eroding fringing salt marsh will be restored through smooth cordgrass plantings and protected by the new reef habitat. In partnership with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, the project will also translate recreational fishing publications and regulations into Spanish to provide language access for the nearby community. The restored salt marsh and oyster reef will provide habitat for red drum, sheepshead, spotted seatrout, weakfish, spot, Atlantic croaker, and shrimp, and the project will better engage the local Spanish-speaking community through translation of materials.

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The North Carolina Coastal Federation’s Morris Landing Clean Water Preserve on Stump Sound, Holly Ridge, NC. Existing living shoreline projects can be seen and a new project area to restore oyster reef and salt marsh habitat with a living shoreline is along the point of land in the upper right area of the photo. Photo: Joe Brandt

In the Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership, the Kenai Watershed Forum will expand the outreach and volunteer restoration efforts of its water stewardship program, Stream Watch, on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. Located in close proximity to Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula is one of the most popular sport fishing destinations in Alaska. Working with local angling groups, efforts will include a volunteer stream bank restoration project to improve salmon habitat, several river and marine debris clean-ups, and the development of educational resources and peer-to-peer outreach focused on the protection of aquatic habitat.

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Since Stream Watch’s inception in 1994, volunteers have shared river stewardship information with over 56,500 river users and removed over 24,800 pounds of trash from our waterways, helping to keep critical habitat pristine and salmon coming home. Photo: Kenai Watershed Forum

The projects are funded through NOAA Fisheries’ Habitat Protection Division, within the Office of Habitat Conservation, and Recreational Fishing Initiative in partnership with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. They were selected based on their active engagement of recreational fishing partners in habitat protection or restoration efforts, and the potential to build long-term relationships with those partners.

Last updated by Office of Habitat Conservation on May 31, 2019