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The Protected Resources Division develops, coordinates, and monitors:
- Marine Mammals
- Sea Turtles
- Early Life History Dynamics
- Reef Fish: Fisheries Assessment, Monitoring, and Ecology (FAME) Unit
- Coral: Benthic Ecosystems Assessment Research (BEAR) Unit
- Ecosystem Investigations Unit
We also manage:
- research and assessment programs for marine mammal, sea turtles, and other threatended and engangered marine species as necessary to meet agency responsibilities under the
- Marine Mammal Protection Act
- Endangered Species Act
- Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Management and Conservation Act [pdf]
- biodiversity research programs especially as related to marine community assemblages and management, the rebuilding of over utilized and depleted fisheries resources, protection of representative and critical habitats, and the objective of maintaining marine diversity through various management procedures including, but not limited to, reserves and sanctuaries. A fundamental premise of Biodiversity Investigation is the recognition that ecosystem based management includes people and that and marine reserves and diverse marine communities provide extractive and non-extracive benefits that benefit people. Ultimately the protection of ecosystem structure, function, and integrity requires a strong scientific foundation and a holistic, ecosystem-based approach to marine resource management.
The research focus includes:
- Marine Protected Areas
Application and evaluation of no-take marine reserves and marine protected areas as management tools to support sustainable fisheries and to protect marine biodiversity and ecosystem function
- Coral Reef Ecosystems
Coral reefs are highly complex ecosystems whose productivity depends on maintaining reef ecosystem biodiversity, structure, and function. Research seeks to develop a comprehensive theory of reef management by conducting studies of habitat, species composition, functional interactions among biota, population dynamics, influences of physical and environmental factors, and natural and human disturbance.
- Essential fish habitat
Coral reefs and other hard bottom habitats are essential fish habitats under stress from fishing and alteration from natural and human disturbance including global climate change. Research focuses on a wide range of habitat issues including evaluation of habitat quality and problems involving hard bottom benthos and coral reefs
- Habitat Restoration
Research on habitat restoration and enhancement activities is an important focus of activities. Restoration of habitat damage from vessel groundings or natural disturbance is a growing problem in shallow coastal waters. Research is aimed at developing and testing new methods to monitor and restore damaged habitat. Research is also conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of artificial reefs, and to enhance or mitigate resource damage by natural or human activities. Research will also examine technical questions involving fishing gear effects on populations and habitat. More on habitat restoration in the southeast.
- Biological Research
Fundamental biological research is essential to support stock assessments and management decision. With over 100 species of direct commercial importance and over 600 species of recreational, ecological, or aesthetic importance in the region, it is essential to have detailed behavioral and life history information for management purposes. Emphasis is on managed economically and ecologically important and threatened species.
- Fishery-independent assessments
Fisheries traditionally rely on fishery-dependent data to assess stocks which provide limited information for most species, especially those without direct economic value. Research will develop and use new innovative visual, optical, and acoustic methods and technology to collect fishery-independent data on the status of exploited and non-exploited species with emphasis on non-destructive technology.
SEFSC scientists contribute to the understanding, conservation, recovery, and management of marine biodiversity by conducting research and providing scientific and technical advice to local, state, and federal management organizations, including Fishery Management Councils and the National Marine Sanctuary Program.
- Provide scientifically sound information and data sufficient to support ecosystem-based fishery conservation and management
- Recover and maintain protected species populations
- Reduce conflicts that involve protected species
Principal legal mandates that establish the Agency's responsibilities for management and conservation of protected species are the:
- Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA)
- Endangered Species Act (ESA)
- Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Management and Conservation Act (MSFMCA) [pdf]
- National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA)
- NOAA's Ocean and Human Health Initiative
- Protected Resources Division Chief
Jim Bohnsack, Ph.D.
- Sea Turtle Unit
Sheryan Epperly, M.S.
- Marine Mammal Unit
Lance Garrison, Ph.D.
- Benthic Ecology Assessment Research Unit
Margaret W. Miller, Ph. D.
- Biodiversity Investigations Unit
Joe Serafy, Ph.D.
- Early Life History Dynamics Unit
John Lamkin, Ph. D.
- Fish Assessment, Monitoring, and Ecology Unit
Benjamin Ruttenberg, Ph. D.
- Ecosystem Inestigations Unit
Joan Browder, Ph.D.
How Do I...?
- Distinguish a white marlin from a spearfish
- How do I report a stranded/ beached whale, dolphin, or turtle?
- How do I report a lionfish sighting?
- Access SouthEast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR)
- How do I report for my fishing/dealer permit requirements?
- How do I report a retrieved tag?
- How do I find current fishery closures?
- How do I adopt a billfish?
- How do I register my billfish tournament?
- How do I apply for a permit?
- Visit the SEFSC library
- How do I find NOAA staff?
- How do I apply for grant funding?
- How do I request permission to use a photo found on the website?
- How do I find It? Provide Website Feedback
Mountainous Star Coral babies cultured from captured spawn and settled on artificial substrate, shown under fluorescent light
Photo Credit: NOAA SEFSC
Photo Credit: NOAA Beaufort Lab
Photo Credit: Andy Bruckner, NOAA
Photo Credit: NOAA's Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
pipefishes and seahorses
Photo Credit: NOAA
(click photo for larger image)