Conserving Habitat in the Southeast

Southeast Region - Habitat Conservation Division

Bay Scallop in Seagrass

Our habitat conservation efforts center around protecting, conserving, restoring, and creating habitats and ecosystems vital to self-sustaining populations of living marine resources under our stewardship.  We attempt to minimize habitat losses while successfully enhancing and restoring fishery habitats and accommodate sustainable development with minimal loss of wetlands and other aquatic sites.

Within the area encompassed by the Southeast Region, we provide review, advisory, and consultative services to effect the conservation and enhancement of fishery habitat using various authorities including:

  • Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act
  • Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act
  • Clean Water Act
  • Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act
  • Federal Power Act
  • National Environmental Policy Act
  • Coral Reef Conservation Act

Environmental Review and Consultation Activities

Since inception of the NOAA Fisheries Habitat Program in the early 1970s, the Southeast Region has focused on consultations with federal agencies required by statute, as well as individuals and state agencies whose actions and activities may result in adverse effects on marine and estuarine fishery habitats.

Essential Fish Habitat Consultations

One of the principal authorities for protecting and conserving marine fishery habitats are the EFH provisions in the 1996 amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.  Federal agencies which authorize, fund, or undertake projects that may adversely affect EFH to consult with NOAA Fisheries.  The Division recommends to federal agencies measures to avoid, minimize, mitigate, or otherwise offset the effects of their actions on EFH.  Also, NOAA Fisheries must include measures to minimize the adverse affects of fishing gear and fishing activities on EFH as well.  MORE INFORMATION >>

Federal Power Act Consultations

Migrating fish, such as shad and sturgeon, need access to freshwater habitat for spawning and rearing their young.  Some fish need to swim thousands of miles through oceans and rivers to reach their destination.  Hydropower projects can block the movement of these fish as well as disrupt the flow of rivers and streams causing changes in water flow and quality.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) process of licensing and re-licensing hydropower projects triggers NOAA’s authority under the Federal Power Act and represents another major opportunity to influence a federal activity affecting fishery habitats.  MORE INFORMATION >>


Partnering and Partnerships

Regulatory programs do not address the full spectrum of conservation challenges nor do they provide all the tools needed for comprehensive habitat conservation.  Partnerships are important for protecting and conserving aquatic habitat while continuing to provide ecological and economic benefits.  New conservation challenges (e.g., climate change, prolonged droughts, and population growth) require engagement from the broader stewardship community, and we work with a variety of partnership entities comprising various federal, state, local, private, and non-profit groups.  MORE INFORMATION >>


Habitat Restoration

While we primarily strive to conserve habitat to boost fish populations and recover threatened and endangered species, the Division also participates in a variety of programs to enhance, restore, and create fishery habitats across the southeastern United States.  Restored coastal habitats provide clean water, support fish and wildlife, and protect coastal communities from storms.    They also support boating, fishing, and tourism.  Habitat restoration helps people, too. Restoration creates jobs—an average of 15 jobs per $1 million invested.  MORE INFORMATION >>


Last updated by Southeast Regional Office on February 09, 2018