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National Fish Habitat Partnership Celebrates 10 Years of Success

The places where fish live – from waters along riverbanks to waves crashing on salty shores – need more attention. The growing problems facing fish habitat brought people together 10 years ago to develop new solutions.

In 2006, conservation-minded individuals created the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, which later was renamed the National Fish Habitat Partnership. Since then, NOAA has supported the Partnership’s goals by providing leadership, technical expertise, and funding to support fish habitat conservation activities that match NOAA’s mission.

The Partnership leads an unprecedented, nationwide attempt to address the rapid decline and loss of fish habitat. This science-based and voluntary effort pulls together the energy, expertise, and existing programs of state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, foundations, and individuals. In a nutshell, the Partnership connects concerned groups and citizens nationally and locally. It seeks to sustain treasured aquatic habitats and the people that depend on them.

Here we highlight a few joint accomplishments of NOAA and the National Fish Habitat Partnership. The next decade may bring even greater challenges and achievements.

  • 2006: The Secretaries of Commerce and Interior, along with the President and Executive Vice President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, sign the first National Fish Habitat Action Plan and commit to playing an active role in the initiative.

    2006: The Secretaries of Commerce and Interior, along with the President and Executive Vice President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, sign the first National Fish Habitat Action Plan and commit to playing an active role in the initiative.

  • 2007: NOAA Fisheries begins a multi-year partnership with the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership. NOAA funding to coastal restoration projects drew in significant additional funding and inspired communities to restore oyster reef, salt marsh, mangrove, and seagrass habitats.

    2007: NOAA Fisheries begins a multi-year partnership with the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership. NOAA funding to coastal restoration projects drew in significant additional funding and inspired communities to restore oyster reef, salt marsh, mangrove, and seagrass habitats.

  • 2010: Through a Fish’s Eye, the first national-scale assessment of the status of inland and coastal fish habitat, is completed. NOAA helped create this report and its underlying coastal assessment work.

    2010: Through a Fish’s Eye, the first national-scale assessment of the status of inland and coastal fish habitat, is completed. NOAA helped create this report and its underlying coastal assessment work.

  • 2012: NOAA helps fund the Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership to promote the use of conservation mooring technology by the boating community in Rhode Island. As a replacement for traditional chains that drag on the bottom, these moorings avoid damage to eelgrass habitat.

    2012: NOAA helps fund the Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership to promote the use of conservation mooring technology by the boating community in Rhode Island. As a replacement for traditional chains that drag on the bottom, these moorings avoid damage to eelgrass habitat.

  • 2013: NOAA helps fund the Pacific Marine Estuarine Partnership to support assessments of West Coast estuarine habitat, including the role of estuaries as nursery habitat for young fish, the importance of estuaries to small fish eaten by larger fish, and the factors that affect the ability of West Coast estuaries to serve these functions.

    2013: NOAA helps fund the Pacific Marine Estuarine Partnership to support assessments of West Coast estuarine habitat, including the role of estuaries as nursery habitat for young fish, the importance of estuaries to small fish eaten by larger fish, and the factors that affect the ability of West Coast estuaries to serve these functions.

  • 2015: A study commissioned by the California Fish Passage Forum recommends using a NOAA monitoring protocol to evaluate the success of fish passage restoration projects.  This recommendation may lead to an increase in the number of fish passage projects that follow NOAA’s monitoring standards.

    2015: A study commissioned by the California Fish Passage Forum recommends using a NOAA monitoring protocol to evaluate the success of fish passage restoration projects. This recommendation may lead to an increase in the number of fish passage projects that follow NOAA’s monitoring standards.

  • 2016: The Partnership releases its second fish habitat status report: Through a Fish’s Eye (2015) for which NOAA developed two separate assessment products. The first is an update to the coastal component of the 2010 national assessment mentioned above, and the second is a regional assessment approach that uses fish abundance as indicators of the condition of estuarine habitats in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The results of both assessments provide important information to decision makers to help prioritize areas most in need of conservation action.

    2016: The Partnership releases its second fish habitat status report: Through a Fish’s Eye (2015) for which NOAA developed two separate assessment products. The first is an update to the coastal component of the 2010 national assessment mentioned above, and the second is a regional assessment approach that uses fish abundance as indicators of the condition of estuarine habitats in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The results of both assessments provide important information to decision makers to help prioritize areas most in need of conservation action.

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