Regulatory Permit Program


Ensuring Sustainable Fisheries

North Carolina (NC) harvests some of the finest fish and shellfish available anywhere in the world.  The Wilmington District Corps of Engineers regulatory program coordinates with the fisheries agencies to  ensure permitting activities do not harm these important resources.

Essential Fish Habitat

Essential Fish Habitat describes all waters and substrate necessary for fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity.

The District consults with NOAA Fisheries, as authorized by the Magnuson Stevens Act, to protect the nation's fisheries.  NOAA Fisheries, also known as the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) designates areas that are essential to the sustainability of the fishery resource.  The designation and protection of those areas important to the survival of the fisheries are known as Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). All federal agencies whose work may affect fish habitats must consult with NOAA Fisheries. EFH is described for federally managed species, some of which have habitats in state waters.


EFH Tools & Info

NOAA Fisheries Habitat program

NOAA EFH Mapper - maps for essential fish habitat (EFH), habitat areas of particular concern, and EFH areas protected from fishing. The online  viewer shows species that spawn, grow, or live in a chosen location in map or report format.

EFH Explained

“Essential Fish Habitat” (EFH), are defined as “those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity.” Section 303(a)(7) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1801 et seq., as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act in 1996, requires that Fishery Management Plans (FMPs) describe and identify essential fish habitat (EFH) within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for all life stages of each species in a fishery management unit. Available information should be interpreted with a risk-averse approach to ensure that adequate areas are protected as EFH for the managed species. In North Carolina, salt marshes, oyster reefs, and seagrass beds are designated EFH for red drum and penaeid shrimp, species managed cooperatively by state and federal authorities.