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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

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

Marine Fisheries

CHPP
Coastal Habitat
Protection Plan
Strategic
Habitat Areas
Threats to Habitat Lend a Hand

Coastal Habitat Protection Plan

While much of the concern over declining fish stocks has been pointed at overfishing, habitat loss and degradation can make a stock more susceptible to decline. The Marine Fisheries Commission protects fish habitat through fishing gear restrictions and habitat designations in certain areas. Fish habitat designations such as Primary Nursery Areas, Secondary Nursery Areas, No Trawl Areas, and Crab Spawning Sanctuaries have fishery rules that protect the habitats and their ecological functions. Other potential habitat and water quality management measures fall under the authority of other regulatory commissions.

In 1997, due to concerns about declining fishery resources in North Carolina, the N.C. General Assembly passed the Fisheries Reform Act. This law recognizes that in addition to sound fishery management, healthy habitat and water quality is needed, to support fish species throughout their life history. Because of the relationship between habitat and fish populations, the law contains the directive to protect and restore habitats supporting coastal fisheries through the creation of a Coastal Habitat Protection Plan.

Coastal Habitats

There are six fish habitats in coastal N.C. – shell bottom, submerged aquatic vegetation, wetlands, ocean hard bottom, soft bottom, and water column. Together these habitats provide the ecological services needed for fish throughout their life cycle, as well as ecosystem services that benefit the human environment.

Strategic Habitat Areas

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.

Threats to Habitat

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.

Lend a Hand to Help Protect Fish Habitats

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.

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

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