The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries protects fish habitat through various fishing gear restrictions in certain habitats. Some habitats, such as oyster reefs or submerged aquatic vegetation, are at greater risk from fishing gear damage than other habitats. Areas considered particularly important have been protected through special designation as Primary Nursery Areas, Secondary Nursery Areas, or No Trawl Areas. In each specially designated area there are gear and fishing rules that protect the habitats and their ecological functions.
The N.C. Coastal Habitat Protection Plan is the result of North Carolina's Fisheries Reform Act, passed by the state legislature in 1997. The plan is the guidance document that addresses habitat and water quality efforts needed to protect, enhance and restore fish habitat in North Carolina.
Strategic Habitat Areas are locations that have been identified as important to North Carolina's coastal fisheries. These areas are identified with help from regional experts who know where the fish live.
Overall decline in the amount of fish habitat can be attributed to many factors, individually called threats. These threats are grouped into three categories: physical threats, water quality threats and other threats.
Simple changes in people's daily routine can have a big, positive impact on fish habitats. Whether you live at the beach or inland, adopting one habit from our list goes a long way in helping to protect our coastal resources.