The Habitat Conservation Division (HCD) is responsible for the protection and conservation of coastal habitats important to commercial and recreational fishery resources of the southeastern United States. The HCD focuses efforts on conserving coastal habitats in the eight coastal states from North Carolina to Texas, and Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The coastal zone along the southeastern mainland of the U.S. includes more than 2,799 miles of coastline, 29,900 miles of tidal shoreline and 300 estuarine systems. The estuaries in the southeast contain about 17.2 million acres of marsh and other estuarine habitat and 5.1 million acres of intertidal areas. These wetlands comprise about 83 percent of the coastal wetlands in the coterminous United States. The Southeast Region contains most of the nation's mangrove swamps and seagrasses.
Conserving coastal habitats is important in that approximately 98 percent of all Gulf of Mexico and 94 percent of all southeast Atlantic commercial landings are dependent upon coastal habitats. These resources provide significant economic and social benefits. In addition to food production, wetlands and coastal habitats provide many other useful benefits such as storm protection, flood prevention, erosion protection, aesthetics, waterfowl and furbearer production, recreation, and other benefits.