We all know what habitat is. It's our surroundings -- our homes and our communities. It includes what we need to help keep our families healthy and safe. For some of us, habitat may include both a home and a place of work. And for those who commute between them, habitat includes transportation corridors -- perhaps a car or bus on roads, perhaps a train on tracks, perhaps a bicycle on designated paths. Habitat also includes the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat to sustain our lives.
So it is for fish and other sealife. For instance, adult cod live on the ocean bottom, but their eggs float near the surface, and different life stages of developing cod can be found distributed at different water depths. And fish often migrate to different habitats for reproduction and to feed. To support a cod or other fish, shellfish, mammal, sea turtle, or sea bird, a variety of marine habitats in good condition are needed along with safe corridors to pass between them.
Marine habitats have been severely degraded by pollution from near and far; by abundant trash; by physical damage from dredging, drilling, and dragging; by lost or discarded fishing gear; and by overfishing. Nearshore habitats and estuaries have been further damaged by coastal development, both industrial and residential.
NAMA is working to support habitat restoration and protection through State and Federal programs. The fishermen with whom we work are dedicated to improving fish habitat and making sure their fishing does not contribute to the damage. They are stewards not wasters.