Strategic Habitat Restoration

Degraded habitat is one of the largest obstacles facing our nation’s fisheries. Through technical and financial support, we help ensure fish have access to high-quality habitat.

removal of Merrimack Dam in New Hampshire

Fish and other marine life depend on healthy habitat to eat, feed, and grow. Degraded habitat is one of the largest obstacles to rebuilding sustainable fisheries and recovering protected species.

NOAA Fisheries provides technical and financial assistance for restoration projects that ensure fish have access to high-quality habitat. The goal of these projects is to recover and sustain fisheries—particularly those species listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act, or those managed by NOAA Fisheries.

In addition to benefiting fisheries, habitat restoration yields community and economic benefits such as increased coastal resiliency, commercial and recreational opportunities, decreased safety hazards, and reduced maintenance costs.

These projects range from improving access to habitat by removing dams and other barriers, to restoring coral and oyster reefs, to rebuilding coastal wetlands. Often, we help implement priority habitat restoration identified in recovery plans.

Our field staff work with restoration partners across the country to develop high-quality projects. These partners leverage funding that allows us to implement projects efficiently and achieve far greater outcomes than could be achieved with federal funding alone.

Since the Community-based Restoration Program began in 1996, we have contributed technical assistance and roughly $196 million to more than 2,150 projects. These projects have restored 90,000 acres of habitat and opened more than 4,070 stream miles for fish migration. We’ve also worked with more than 250,000 volunteers—promoting stewardship, conservation, and recovery of the nation’s natural resources.