WASHINGTON, D.C.: The United States National Marine Fisheries Service has announced US$8-million in funding for habitat restoration projects in the Caribbean and some southern states.
Last week, the fisheries service said Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina and Alabama, will benefit for the grant that will “restore threatened coral populations and marshes and to remove marine debris”.
The service said the funding is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional contributions for this work from project partners.
“Our wetlands are disappearing, but we’re not willing to sit on the sidelines and watch it happen,” said Leslie Craig, Southeast Regional Supervisor for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Restoration Center. “The cost of investing in wetland restoration is dwarfed by the value wetlands provide to commercial and recreational fisheries and the protection they offer to people and property.”
Craig said recent successes show that restoring habitat can help halt the decline of fish populations and boost the commercial and recreational catch of fish, shrimp and crab. He also said wetlands can absorb hurricane storm surges, protecting people and property along what are often densely-populated areas of the coast.
Coral planting, reduction of land-based pollution to protect coral reefs and marine debris removal are also key strategies in NOAA’s investment portfolio, designed to improve habitat conditions in order to boost the productivity of commercial and recreational fisheries.