Why Save Fish Habitat?

A Healthy Habitat: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Coral Reefs. Photo Courtesy of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Fishing provides a way of life for millions of people worldwide. One in every six jobs in the United States is related to the coastal zone. Over 1.5 million jobs are fueled by the commercial and recreational fishing industry contributing in excess of $111 billion to the nation's economy.

Aside from the basic economic advantages of preserving these resources, the world has 5.8 billion people to feed to whom fish is an important source of protein. Various fish species also play a key role in balancing the health of our oceans. Abundant fish populations indicate a healthy ocean for this, and the next generation to enjoy.

Close to 20% of the world's coral reefs have been destroyed. The remaining reefs are subject to threats from fishing, mining, sedimentation, pollution, and disease.

Fish, like humans, are dependent on their habitats, or homes. Fish rely on a variety of habitats for spawning, breeding, feeding, and growth. Like any living organism, without a healthy habitat, fish cannot survive. Human activities, however, have been degrading and destroying fish habitat on a worldwide basis As a result, today's world fisheries are less productive than in the past, certain species have become rare finds, and biodiversity is declining. Human activities continue to remove these vital links in the ocean's food chain. In supporting fish habitat conservation we will not only improve the health status of our oceans, but we will ensure our grandchildren of the bounty fisheries can provide.

Algal Blooms on soft coral in the Florida Keys. Some blooms can be connected to seafood contamination. The spread of disease on fish habitat can be instigated by marine pollution. Photo courtesy of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Black Band disease on Florida coral. Photo courtesy of the National Undersea Research Center.

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