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Habitat Conservation

Habitat Conservation


Healthy habitat—like wetlands, rivers, and coral reefs—provides important areas for fish to eat and reproduce. But habitat has been destroyed by coastal development, pollution, extreme weather, and other factors, leading to reduced fish populations. We conserve habitat to boost fish populations and recover threatened and endangered species.  


$23 billion in coastal protection services provided by wetlands

Wetlands absorb floodwaters by acting as a natural sponge. Wetlands can lower overall flood heights, protecting people, property, infrastructure, and agriculture from devastating flood damages.

80,000 acres of wetlands lost each year

The coastal watersheds of the lower 48 states lose 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands each year to development, drainage, erosion, subsidence and sea-level rise. That’s approximately seven football fields every hour.

15 jobs created per $1 million invested in habitat restoration

A recent study of habitat restoration projects supported by the Recovery Act showed that showed that they supported an average of 15 jobs per $1 million invested—up to 30 jobs per $1 million invested for labor-intensive projects. The projects contributed $143.7 million in new or expanded economic activity nationwide.

134 million gallons of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

On April 20, 2010 the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, starting a catastrophic oil leak from the well. By the time it was capped three months later, approximately 134 million gallons of oil had spilled into the Gulf—the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

130,000 acres of habitat restored since 1991

We provide technical and financial assistance for restoration projects that ensure fish have access to high quality habitat. Since 1991, NOAA has contributed technical and financial assistance to more than 2,000 projects, which have restored 130,000 acres of habitat and opened more than 6,000 stream miles for fish migration.

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Value of Habitat

America’s coasts are vital to our nation’s economy. Coastal communities rely on healthy habitat for recreation, tourism, and commercial activities like fishing—without it, these economic opportunities would suffer.

Learn more about the value of healthy habitat 

How We Conserve

We conserve habitat to sustain fisheries, recover protected marine life, and maintain resilient coastal ecosystems and communities.

Learn more about our habitat conservation programs

Threats to Habitat

Coastal habitats face many threats—from development, to pollution, to changing weather conditions. These threats reduce the amount of healthy habitat available for fish and other wildlife. 

Learn more about the problem

Habitat Blueprint

NOAA’s Habitat Blueprint provides a forward-looking framework for us to think and act strategically to address the growing challenge of coastal and marine habitat loss and degradation. We are increasing the effectiveness of our efforts to improve habitat conditions for fisheries, coastal, and marine life, along with other economic, cultural, and environmental benefits. 

Learn more about the Habitat Blueprint 


Everyone's actions affect habitat for fish and other marine life. Learn what you can do to help keep habitat healthy.