Coastal Fish Habitat Partnerships
This newsletter is the first in a series of quarterly newsletters to described progress in achieving individual FHP goals as well as advancing the goals of the National FIsh Habitat Action Plan.
The mission of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan is to protect, restore and enhance the nation's fish and aquatic communities through partnerships that foster fish habitat conservation and improve quality of life.
This mission is achieved by supporting 18 fish habitat partnerships, mobilizing support, setting goals and measuring progress, and conducting outreach on the importance of fish habitats to our economy, natural resources, and quality of life.
Of the 18 fish habitat partnerships in existence in the United States, a total of eight are focused on coastal fish habitat issues. These partnerships include:
Securing Resources for On-The-Ground Fish Habitat Restoration Projects
Through a funding partnership with the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), ACFHP has supported several on-the-ground conservation projects. Each year since 2009, ACFHP solicits and evaluates project applications for on-the-ground conservation projects and sends a ranked list to the USFWS and NFHP for funding consideration. Last year, ACFHP’s third project solicitation cycle, the following three project proposals submitted to the ACFHP were approved to receive USFWS‐NFHP funding:
The following three project proposals submitted to the ACFHP were approved to receive USFWS‐NFHP funding:
James River Atlantic Sturgeon Habitat Restoration
The Indian River Lagoon is a 156-mile bar-built coastal estuary that covers about 3,575 squre km and supports coastal mangrove wetlands, salt marshes, intertidal and subtidal flats, and riparian wetlands and floodplains, which provide important habitat to numerous fish species. The rate of shoreline and wetland destruction has increased because of decades of urbanization and the spread of invasive plant species. This project will restore over 10 acres of coastal habitat wetlands to the Lagoon. Project photo (Pelican Island NWR) and text courtesy of the Marine Resources Council of East Florida.
Restoring the Mangroves of the Indian River Lagoon
Eelgrass Restoration with Conservation Moorings in Buzzards Bay
For more information on these and other ACFHP supported projects, please visit:
For more information on ACFHP, please contact Emily Greene
Hawai'i Fish Habitat Partnership
Habitat Focus: Anchialine Pool Restoration on the Big Island
by Gordon Smith
Anchialine pools are unique coastal habitat features that are benefiting from restoration efforts supported by the Hawaii Fish Habitat Partnership. Anchialine (pronounced "AN-key-AH-leen") pools are brackish waterbodies that are fed by subsurface groundwater (freshwater) and seawater, but have no surface connection to the ocean. They are physically connected to the coastal marine environment via porous subsurface bedrock, and their water surfaces rise and fall with the tides. Anchialine pools vary in size and structure from large ponds of an acre or more, to small shallow pools, to small cracks in recent lava flows.
Anchialine pools provide important habitat for rare invertebrate species, including native shrimp, snails, and damselflies. A number of these species are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and exhibit unusual adaptations that allow them to live in waters that undergo extreme variation in salinity, water temperature and exposure to sunlight. Anchialine pools face a multitude of threats, from exotic species introductions to coastal development and habitat destruction, which threaten native animal populations. Six of the shrimp species found in Hawaiian anchialine pools are candidates for listing as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Staff and volunteers from the Hawaii Wildlife Fund have organized local community and regional university students to lead restoration efforts at the Hoonua Anchialine Pool complex located in the Waiohinu Forest Reserve near South Point on Hawaii Island. The pools are home to endemic shrimp and endangered damselflies, but have suffered from encroachment of invasive vegetation that have overgrown and reduced available shrimp habitat. The invasive plants include Christmasberry and Indian fleabane which also deposit large amounts of leaf litter into the pools, which created a thick layer of organic sediment which further degrades available habitat. Restoration efforts included hand removal of invasive vegetation and use of a small suction dredge to clean the substrate of accumulated organic debris. The resulting increase in the number of native shrimp and damselflies present in the ponds continue to be very encouraging.
Community volunteers and university students remove invasive vegetation by hand and clean substrate using a small suction dredge. Photo credit: Megan Lamson, HWF
"Ten percent of the big fish still remain. There are still some blue whales. There are still some krill in Antarctica. There are a few oysters in Chesapeake Bay. Half the coral reefs are still in pretty good shape, a jeweled belt around the middle of the planet. There's still time, but not a lot, to turn things around."
~ Sylvia Earle
Abandoned crab traps are a prevalent form of marine debris on South Carolina and other states’ scenic coastal shorelines, detracting from their natural beauty and posing an ecological threat to marine and estuarine wildlife.
In 2009, researchers with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), led by Associate Marine Scientist, Dr. Peter Kingsley-Smith, developed a project to revitalize abandoned and unwanted crab traps to create oyster reef habitat. With funding from the SARP/NOAA Community-based Restoration Program (CRP), SCDNR gathered information on the abundance and distribution of abandoned crab traps in South Carolina coastal waters.
Researchers posted flyers to:
1) inform the public about impacts of abandoned crab traps on the environment; 2) raise awareness about the project;
3) recruit survey participants; and
4) obtain unwanted traps.
A total of 755 crab traps have been collected, with many of these traps having already been used as oyster reef substrate as part of this SARP/NOAA grant and a concurrent State Wildlife Grant-funded project.
By the end of the SARP/NOAA project in December 2012, 285 revitalized crab traps had been deployed as substrate by SCDNR staff to support oyster reef development.
The success of this project in terms of its provision of habitat to a variety of fish, crustaceans and mollusks, confirmed the value of “one man’s trash” (abandoned crab traps) as an economical and innovative tool to support oyster reefs and the creation of essential fish habitat. To learn more about the “CONSTRUCT - Creating Oyster Niche Structures Through Restoration Using Crab Traps” project and ongoing work, contact Dr. Peter Kingsley-Smith at 843-953-9840.
NOAA’s Office of Habitat Conservation
For information about specific projects, contact the SARP/NOAA Community-based Restoration Program Administrator, Lindsay Gardner at 615-730-8178.
PMEP Funds 2013 10 Waters to Watch
Bear River Estuary in Washington
by Lisa DeBruyckere
The Pacific Marine and Estuarine Fish Habitat Partnership nominated, and NFHP selected, Bear River Estuary, part of Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge, as a 2013 10 Waters to Watch. In addition, the PMEP is providing financial support to the project in 2013 with NFHP/USFWS funding.
The restoration project will restore 500 acres of high quality estuarine habitat in southern Willapa Bay, benefitting numerous estuarine-dependent species, and supporting local watershed restoration, salmon recovery, and waterfowl management efforts.
Restoration and enhancement of estuarine habitats will increase the acreage of salt marsh and other habitats, including the tidal creeks, eelgrass beds and channels that furnish young salmon (coho, chum, Chinook and cutthroat trout), with protected feeding areas where they forage and grow before heading out to sea. Lewis and Porter Point streams also provide spawning habitat for cutthroat trout and coho.
Migratory waterfowl, waterbirds, and shorebirds will benefit from the increase in tidal marsh and mudflat habitat. Estuarine areas on the Refuge have annually provided important habitat for over 20,000 migrating ducks, tens of thousands of shorebirds, and 3,000 migrating geese at a time. This type of habitat is essential to sustaining the estimated 2.2 million duck, 400,000 Canada goose, 200,000 brant, and over 2 million shorebird use-days associated with the southern half of Willapa Bay (USFWS 1997).
Check out the PMEP website for more information on this and other projects.