Those habitats occur within an area covering 2.5 million acres of water and coastal wetlands, including the largest estuarine system of any coastal state on the eastern seaboard.
Fish habitats are interdependent. What happens to one habitat can affect the entire ecosystem. Most fish species use different habitats at different life stages. The diversity and productivity of fish populations depends on the integrity of the entire aquatic ecosystem.
As a whole, North Carolina’s estuarine and coastal waters are showing signs of habitat degradation and loss (lack of recovery of certain fishery species despite reduced harvest, increasing shellfish harvest closures in Outstanding Resource Waters, large number of impaired waters, frequent fish kills, and negative changes in ecosystem structure).
Not only are coastal fisheries threatened, but also coastal economies built around a high quality natural environment. Timely action is required because preventing a problem is often much less costly than fixing one.