Contact Us:

  Habitat Conservation Division
  263 13th Avenue South 
  Saint Petersburg, FL  33701

  Phone: (727) 824-5317
  Fax: (727) 824-5300


The goal of the Habitat Conservation Division is to protect, conserve, restore, and create habitats and ecosystems vital to self sustaining populations of living marine resources under NOAA Fisheries’ stewardship.

The Division seeks to minimize habitat losses and the successful enhancement, restoration, and creation of fishery habitats, accommodating sustainable development while seeking no-net-loss of wetlands and other aquatic sites.

The review, advisory, and consultative services provided by the Division to effect conservation and enhancement of fishery habitat largely uses laws such as:

  • Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act
  • Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act
  • Clean Water Act
  • Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act
  • Federal Power Act
  • National Environmental Policy Act
  • Coral Reef Conservation Act

NOAA Fisheries has delineated "essential fish habitat" (EFH) for Federally-managed species. Within the area encompassed by the Southeast Region, EFH has been identified for hundreds of marine species covered by fishery management plans, under the auspices of the Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic, or Caribbean Fishery Management Councils, and for highly migratory species.  Federal action agencies which fund, permit, or carry out activities in the Southeast Region that may adversely affect EFH are required to consult with the Habitat Conservation Division regarding the potential impacts of their actions on EFH.

Regulatory programs do not address the full spectrum of conservation challenges nor do they provide all the tools needed for comprehensive habitat conservation.  Thus, partnerships are an important mechanism for protecting and conserving aquatic habitat, while continuing to provide ecological and economic benefits.  Increased demands on capabilities and new conservation challenges (e.g., climate change, prolonged droughts, and population growth) require engagement from the broader stewardship community.  The Division works with a variety of partnership entities comprising various federal, state, local, private, and non-profit groups.  The Division strives to accommodate those partnerships that possess the greatest potential to protect coastal fishery habitats.




Seagrass Literature Review and Annotated Bibliography

In 1998, Fonseca et al. (1998) compiled a comprehensive annotated bibliography of seagrass information spanning all relevant literature until that time. In 2015, the Habitat Conservation Division contracted a literature review and annotated bibliography of information with an emphasis on peer-reviewed documents that focused on seagrass restoration, transplantation, mitigation, and recovery. This document focuses on new papers and findings that span the 16 years from 1998 – more




Environmental Compliance for Sustainable Development

Making Room for More Cargo at the Port of Charleston

NOAA Fisheries consults on essential fish habitat for the proposed construction of a marine container terminal, where ships deliver cargo from around the world, at the former U.S. Navy base located along the Cooper River in Charleston, more.



Decommissioning and Rigs-to-Reefs in the Gulf of Mexico FAQs

The Department of Interior's (DOI) Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, DOI’s Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency developed frequently asked questions surrounding decommissioning of non-producing oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.  It contains the following category of questions:

1. Decommissioning and Platform Removal (Q1-Q5)
2. Rigs-to-Reefs (Q6-Q19)
3. Reefing in the Gulf of Mexico (Q20-23)
4. Essential Fish Habitat and Oil and Gas Structures (Q24-Q28)
5. Federal Agency Roles (Q29)

Click here to open the Frequently Asked Questions



Habitat Conservation Division staff co-authors Beneficial Use of Sediments from Dredging Activities in the Gulf of Mexico in a special issue of the Journal of Coastal Research

The Gulf Regional Sediment Management Master Plan Technical Framework was prepared by the Habitat Conservation and Restoration Team of theGulf of Mexico Alliance with funding provided by the Gulf of Mexico Foundation through a cooperative agreement with the Coastal Services Center, National Ocean Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) more





Freshwater Diversions and Sediment Diversions

Mississippi River Freshwater Diversions in Southern Louisiana: Effects on Wetland Vegetation, Soils, and Elevation


Final Report to the State of Louisiana and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through the Louisiana Coastal Area Science and Technology Program Coordinated by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration  

A Position Paper by the Technical Panel from the Workshop on Response of Louisiana Marsh Soils and Vegetation to more


Advancing Ecosystem Modeling of Hypoxia and Diversion Effects on Fisheries in the Northern Gulf of Mexico

NOAA, partners share collaborative vision for healthy Gulf Coast Ecosystem - With the goal of improving environmental and community resilience in the northern Gulf of Mexico, NOAA joined with the State of Louisiana and university researchers to tackle the challenge of sustaining fisheries in coastal Louisiana in the face of two large-scale restoration efforts – Mississippi River diversions and Gulf of Mexico hypoxic (“dead”) zone more



Removing Barriers - Restoring Fish Passage

Diadromous Fish Passage: A Primer on Technology, Planning, and Design


Recognizing the problems created by barriers such as dams, culverts, and other diversions NOAA Fisheries Service's Northeast and Southeast regions developed an overview of existing fish more





Cape Fear River Partnership - Agencies and communities work together to protect valuable marine resources


The Cape Fear River once supported thriving migratory fish populations including American shad, sturgeon, river herring, American eel, and striped bass. NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office has worked to restore these populations for nearly 20 years.  Installation of a rock-arch ramp, completed this year allowing upstream migrating fish to pass beyond the lowermost dam and into historical spawning grounds, shows close coordination between the Regional Office’s Protected Resources and Habitat Conservation Divisions linking stewardship authorities to accomplish successful fish passage. NOAA's conservation experts consulting on public works projects created a "win-win" scenario for the Port of Wilmington, the local community and the valuable marine resources.

The Cape Fear River Partnership is the next step in restoring this basin.  The partnership’s “Cape Fear River Basin Action Plan for Migratory Fish” identifies actions aimed at further improving habitat for migrating fishes.  The action plan was developed by federal, state, local, academic, private, and other organizations that recognize the economic, ecological, social, and cultural importance of migratory fish in the Cape Fear River basin and strengthens the Regional Office's many years of effort in the basin.

Funding for this project was provided by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009


The Cape Fear River Basin Action Plan

NOAA and partners in the Cape Fear River Partnership announce the release of the Cape Fear River Basin Action Plan for Migratory Fish. The plan includes a suite of actions aimed at improving habitat for important species-including shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon, American shad, and striped bass-that make the Cape Fear home for at least part of their life more



Cape Fear Fishway - Removing Barriers to Upstream Habitat NOAA Fisheries was involved in the design, study, and construction of a fishway at a dam which had been blocking access to historical spawning grounds on the Cape Fear River...READ MORE.



Supporting Ecosystem Restoration Efforts

Rebirth of the Bahia Grande: Partners Working Together to Restore an Estuary.

A sea of partners are working together to restore the Bahia Grande estuary. The effort began in  2000 when the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge acquired 21,700 acres of land between the towns of Laguna Vista and Brownsville, more.



Tampa Bay, Florida, Meets Seagrass Recovery Goal - A Partnership Approach to Habitat Conservation

Seagrasses are marine flowering plants which grow in shallow water areas and require clean water to flourish. Economically and ecologically important fish and shellfish species such as groupers, snappers, and shrimp use seagrass as nursery habitat and hunting more.



Bayou Grand Liard Ridge and Marsh Project

NOAA Fisheries is the federal sponsor for a $42 million dollar coastal restoration effort currently under construction and funded under the Coastal Wetlands Protection, Planning, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) program. CWPPRA is federal legislation designed to identify, prepare, and fund construction of coastal wetlands restoration projects to address issues related to Louisiana’s vanishing coastal wetlands *(football size field per hour). It is one of two ridge and marsh habitat restoration projects sponsored by NOAA completing construction this more.



Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute: Sargassum Fact Sheet

During 2011, massive quantities of pelagic sargassum occurred throughout the Caribbean, impacting aquatic resources, fisheries, shorelines, waterways, and tourism. A similar event occurred in 2014 and continues in 2015. This Fact Sheet seeks to share the state of knowledge about the sargassum influx and to promote the adoption of best management practices.  Click here to download the fact sheet.