NOAA’s Habitat Focus Areas (HFAs) were highlighted at the 24th Biennial Conference of the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation held in Providence, Rhode Island, earlier this month. NCCOS chaired a scientific session where four of the ten HFAs were discussed in the context of NOAA's Habitat Blueprint—a framework for NOAA to address the growing challenge of habitat loss. The conference also included sessions on hypoxia, acidification, shellfish resources, and climate change.
Between 2013 and 2015, NOAA selected ten Habitat Focus Areas nationwide to help communities protect and restore valuable natural resources that support local economies. Habitat Focus Areas are targeted places where NOAA is collaborating with communities to improve the environment through NOAA science, service, and stewardship.
The four HFAs reviewed included Biscayne Bay (FL), the Choptank River Complex (MD), Kachemak Bay (AK), and Penobscot River (ME). In Maryland, for example, the Choptank River HFA is restoring oyster reefs and gauging success in creeks and rivers by measuring the percent of river bottom covered by oysters over time.