Saving Coastal Fisheries and Habitat

Since 1936, the National Wildlife Federation has worked to conserve the nation’s wildlife and wild places. As part of our 80th anniversary celebration, we are recognizing important moments in our history that continue to make an impact today.

Ten years ago, the National Wildlife Federation published a report titled “An Unfavorable Tide” which looked at the impact climate change could have on Florida’s saltwater gamefish species. Today, wildlife and communities are dealing with the negative impacts of sea level rise, flooding, and habitat loss – all effects of climate change. Climate change is a bigger threat than we could have predicted ten years ago.

Orlando Wetlands Park Sunrise
Sunrise over wetlands in Florida. Photo Contest donated by Jonathan Burket.
Coastal habitats, like low-lying saltmarshes and tidal flats along the Gulf Coast and southern Florida, are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise and climate change. Many of Florida’s fish and shellfish depend on coastal saltmarshes and seagrass beds for their egg, larval and juvenile life stages, so these species are threatened by the loss of these habitats. The National Wildlife Federation and our affiliate, Florida Wildlife Federation, are working to conserve what remains of Florida’s fisheries and coastal ecosystems.

Snook caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo by Jim Mullhaup via Flickr Creative Commons
Some hope does exist: the RESTORE Act will send Florida approximately $600 million from BP’s Clean Water Act penalties from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. These funds offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address ongoing impacts to fish habitat across the state, including the restoration of Robinson Preserve, an important coastal and wetland habitat for wildlife and fish including the juvenile snook and redfish; a fishery enhancement project in Charlotte County; and coral reef restoration in Monroe County.

Additionally, the National Wildlife Federation continues to advocate for funding for the critical C-43 West Basin Storage Reservoir Project. Once constructed, this reservoir will benefit the Everglades, particularly the Caloosahatchee estuary, an important nursery for both fish that live in coastal waters and deep in the Gulf of Mexico. But projects like these require public support and funding, and we need your help more than ever to counter the impacts of climate change, and manmade disasters like Deepwater Horizon.

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Help NWF continue its work in the South Central region restoring and preserving Florida’s fisheries and other surrounding ecosystems.