NOAA Fisheries announces funding for habitat restoration
NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) has announced more than $6 million in funding for habitat restoration projects in Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Virginia to restore more than 11,000 acres of habitat, and open more than 200 stream miles for fish passage. These projects will benefit species like river herring and the tuna, bluefish, cod, birds and marine mammals that prey on them.
"Dam removal, fishways and other restoration efforts provide a key role in helping us bring back depleted fish stocks," said John Bullard, Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries Northeast Region. "They also have a variety of ecological, social and economic benefits to communities that border our rivers."
From Virginia to Maine, native fish like river herring and Atlantic salmon are limited by a lack of habitat. NOAA Fisheries is working with partners in the region to restore habitat for these fish by removing barriers to fish passage and improving in-stream conditions. These projects address actions recommended in the recovery plans for Endangered Species Act-listed species. Three will restore critical spawning and nursery areas for river herring in Massachusetts. One will open fish passage to Atlantic salmon and forage fish in Maine, two will create oyster reef habitat in Virginia and Maryland, and another will advance dam removal in Maryland along critical waterways for herring, eel, and shad.
Maryland Restoration efforts will include:
Bloede Dam ($3.83M): The funding to remove Bloede Dam and for engineering design to remove the Daniels Dam on Maryland's Patapsco River are part of a larger effort with partner American Rivers to restore more than 65 miles of spawning habitat for blueback herring, alewife, and American shad, and more than 183 miles for American eel, ensuring sustainable populations of these target species. Two other dams on the Patapsco River (Simkins and Union Dams) were also removed in 2010 as part of this effort.
Lafayette River, VA and Harris Creek, MD oyster reefs ($1.34M): Nearly 67 acres of oysters will be planted in the first year of these two awards, creating habitat for black sea bass and other fish. Award recipients: Restore America's Estuaries; Chesapeake Bay Foundation; Maryland Department of Natural Resources; Oyster Recovery Partnership.
NOAA Fisheries' investment in habitat is part of a long-term effort to rebuild fisheries, many of which have declined from habitat loss, over-fishing and climate change. Recent successes show that restoring habitat is a way not only to stop the decline of fish populations, but also to regrow them to historic high numbers.
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To read NOAA's entire news release go to: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/mediacenter/2013/10/22_10_habitatgrants_ner.html