The North Carolina Coastal Federation has been recommended as a partner in a federal effort to build 45 acres of oyster reef sanctuary in Pamlico Sound.
The project is part of $9 million in funding the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is recommending for 17 coastal and marine habitat restoration projects in 10 states and U.S. territories. NOAA’s 2016 Community-based Restoration Program is part of the agency’s efforts to support healthy ecosystems and resilient coastal communities.
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service announced Wednesday it had recommended nearly $1.28 million in funding for the Pamlico Sound oyster restoration project. The agency said the project will advance the state’s goal to create a network of sanctuaries in Pamlico Sound during the next 10 years.
The project locations are designated as essential fish habitat for at least 26 species of fish. It will provide highly productive habitat that will benefit commercially and recreationally important species, according to NOAA’s announcement.
The other recommended projects range from coral reef restoration in Florida to fish passage improvements in California.
“These restoration projects are a win-win for the environment and surrounding communities,” said Pat Montanio, director of the NOAA Fisheries Office of Habitat Conservation. “When we make smart investments in habitat restoration, we not only help sustain fisheries and recover protected resources, we also use these projects to provide additional benefits, like protecting coastal communities from flooding and erosion, and boosting local economies through increased recreational opportunities.”
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Community-based Restoration Program, which was established in 1996 and authorized under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006. Since the program’s beginning, NOAA has provided more than $140 million to implement more than 2,000 habitat restoration projects, all through partnerships with more than 2,500 organizations. Through the program and the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NOAA and its partners are helping to create healthy habitats and resilient fish populations in the United States.
NOAA said the application approval and obligation of funds is not final. Each of the 17 applications is being “recommended” and is not a guarantee of funding. Final approval is subject to funding availability as well as final review and approval by both the NOAA Grants Management Division and Department of Commerce Federal Assistance Law Division. Applicants should expect to receive formal notification of award approval by Oct. 1.