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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Coastal Habitat Protection Program

Marine Fisheries

Moving Forward with Plans for Coastal Habitats

marsh habitat


Fish Eye News
Aug. 2011 Archive

In the past few weeks, four state environmental commissions decided what priorities state environmental agencies should focus on for the next two years to implement the latest N.C. Coastal Habitat Protection Plan, adopted in 2010.

And there are some new priorities in the 2011-2013 Biannual Implementation Plan.
 
“It’s going to focus more on outreach,” said Anne Deaton, Habitat Protection Section chief for the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.

All the environmental agencies will look for ways to incorporate CHPP initiatives into their education and outreach programs, Deaton said.

For instance, the Division of Marine Fisheries will take on projects like creating informational materials that highlight the life history, habitat use and threats of focal fish species, setting up fish habitat displays at festivals and writing Fish Eye News articles about CHPP initiatives.

“Agencies are also going to work more on climate change adaptation,” Deaton said.

They will begin developing a sea level rise policy and a sea level rise education strategy, she said. 

There will also be increased emphasis on restoring fish habitat, particularly focusing on improving fish passage through the removal of fish migration barriers, Deaton said. Dams and some culverts can impede anadromous fish such as river herring or Atlantic sturgeon from reaching their spawning grounds and successfully spawning.

Many implementation actions from previous years, such as bottom mapping will continue, as well. And agencies will seek funding for research on endocrine disrupters. 

The Coastal Habitat Protection Plan compiles in one document the latest research on coastal fish habitats so that management needs can be identified to protect and restore fish populations. It identifies the different types of fish habitats, the benefits or ecosystem services they provide, and the threats to those habitats – threats from both human activities and natural events.

The N.C. General Assembly, recognizing the role aquatic habitats plays in the health of coastal fisheries, passed a state law in 1997 that required the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to develop the CHPP and the Marine Fisheries Commission, Coastal Resources Commission and the Environmental Management Commission to adopt it.  The Wildlife Resources Commission joined the group in 2010.

The first CHPP, adopted in 2004 and published in January 2005,  accomplished several goals, including stimulating interagency cooperation and coordination, accelerating habitat mapping and oyster reef restoration, enhancing compliance monitoring, improving stormwater

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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