What Threatens Fish Habitat?

A ship runs aground on a coral roof In the Florida Keys. As a result the reef, home to thousands of fish, is devastated. Photo courtesy of National Undersea Research Center.

Fish Habitats include numerous marine and freshwater environments from the majestic kelp forests of the Pacific to the seagrass beds of the Gulf of Mexico. These habitats provide fish with their basic living needs. However, human activities have lead to change and destruction in most marine environments. Our impacts can be detected virtually everywhere.

  • Ninety-one percent of California's original wetlands have been drained or filled in as a results of urbanization or other development activities.

  • Florida's original wetlands have been reduced by over 9.3 million acres.

  • New York State has lost between 50% to 70% of it's intertidal shores and mudflats.

  • Maryland has lost 95% of natural barrier island beaches.

  • Over half of the original salt marshes and mangrove forests in the U.S. have been destroyed.

  • A healthy Cobble-shell bottom habitat for scallops compared to a Cobble-shell bottom habitat after ONE pass of a scallop dredge. Some fishing methods are the equivalent of terrestrial plowing, clearcutting, or strip mining. Photos courtesy of P. Auster, MCBI.

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