Fish depend on healthy habitats to survive and thrive. This is precisely why fisheries reserves are so important. Fortunately, fisheries experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), regional fisheries councils, federal agencies, and state agencies have opportunities to work together on fish protection plans to ensure that publicly funded projects take into account our country’s coastal fish habitats.
As an angler, you should be aware of fishery reserves and national fish protection practices. There are three types of national fisheries reserves that you should know about.
Essential fish habitat (EFH)
Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) encompasses all types of aquatic habitats where fish spawn, breed, feed, or grow to reach maturity. Wetlands, coral reefs, sea grasses and rivers can be essential habitats. In fact, if any federal agency, including the military, is operating in an area that adversely affects the fish’s essential habitat, consultation with the NOAA fisheries is required. The agency and NOAA are working together to develop recommendations for the protection of detached houses in order to find out how coastal development can best be carried out while at the same time supporting the habitat of the fish and minimizing or avoiding environmental damage.
Essential protected areas for fish habitats (EFH protected areas)
EFH protected areas are closed to certain types of fishing (as defined by certain longitude and latitude coordinates) in order to minimize the adverse effects of fishing on the essential fish habitat. If you are unsure of the nature reserves or nature reserve rules, you can find the NOAA EFH Mapper online. The NOAA EFH Mapper is an interactive map that shows all EFH areas that are protected from fishing or lists regulations for fishing in nature reserves.
Special Habitat Areas (HAPCs)
Habitat Areas of Particular Concern (HAPCs) are high priorities for the preservation of single family homes. HAPCs are habitat areas with important ecological functions or rare habitat areas that are particularly prone to degradation. HAPCs can include estuaries, kelp, shallow coral, seagrass, and rocky reefs. Using HAPC coordinates and the NOAA mapper, you can identify the areas that meet the HAPC conditions.
As you learn more about different fish species and the habitats they live in, you will also better understand the long-term importance of regulations governing fisheries in nature reserves.