The Marine Fisheries Habitat Project was created in response to the need to comprehensively understand and assess impacts to marine fisheries habitat. This project is comprised of four objectives: Technical Review, Fisheries Habitat Research, Climate Change, and Emerging Issues. The Fisheries Habitat Project also administers the Marine Fisheries In Lieu Fee (ILF) mitigation program to help address habitat degradation resulting from coastal construction projects.
The Technical Review team tracks coastal and marine projects, reviews permit applications and writes comments letters, incorporating information from DMF biologists, technical reports, and peer-reviewed literature. MarineFisheries also reviews options for compensatory mitigation and participates in interagency meetings. Technical Review develops reports and guidelines such as updates to time of year recommendations and the development of best management practices. The goals of Fisheries Habitat Technical Review include:
- Provide scientifically defendable technical comments on proposed projects whenever possible and clearly integrate MarineFisheries research into review recommendations.
- Follow a consistent, transparent process to review projects.
MarineFisheries has been conducting fisheries habitat research since its inception. The goals of Fisheries Habitat Research include better consolidating existing habitat research within MarineFisheries and using it to inform management. This program will also aid in the creation of new data products now viewed as necessary in the fisheries management community (e.g. seafloor maps). The main objectives of Fisheries Habitat Research are to 1) serve as a hub for habitat projects and data within MarineFisheries and 2) conduct relevant habitat-related research.
- Help support interdisciplinary research, data, and communication needs within MarineFisheries
- Conduct relevant habitat-related research
There is scientific consensus that our climate is changing as a result of global warming caused by human activities that produce greenhouse gas emissions. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is expected to experience warmer temperatures, increased frequency and intensity of storms, rising sea levels, and increased erosion which threaten our coastal areas. MarineFisheries is committed to evaluating climate change impacts to living marine fisheries resources, and identifying and implementing approaches needed to maintain and restore the biological wealth of the Commonwealth’s ocean and coast.
Emerging Issues uses a team approach to handling a wide variety of topics that the agency addresses. These issues may need immediate attention or require dedicated focus for a decade or more. Many of these issues require the development of policies or interdisciplinary representation on task forces and workgroups. Some of the more recent topics are listed below.
In order to address issues of habitat degradation due to coastal construction, MarineFisheries entered into an agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers to administer a program whereby mitigation funds are used to support on-the-ground restoration activities. Known as In Lieu Fee (ILF) mitigation, this program is intended to provide compensation for permitted impacts to aquatic resources, particularly those to Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) and aquatic and shellfish habitats in Massachusetts.