NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), Office for Coastal Management (OCM) and Quantum Spatial, Inc have developed a new tool that will reduce dredging impacts to essential fish habitat.
The team developed a cutting-edge decision-support tool, ShoalMATE, to guide wise use and dredging of offshore sand shoals.
To enhance coastal resilience, scientists and resource managers are employing coastal engineering strategies like beach renourishment, barrier island restoration, and wetland restoration to protect communities from storms, erosion, and sea level rise.
These types of projects have led to an increase in the demand for offshore marine sands. Dredging of sand shoals is the most efficient method to obtain marine sands, however little is known about sand shoal habitat value to commercially and ecologically important fish populations.
ShoalMATE provides BOEM with a consistent, science-based framework to streamline Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) consultations with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, to identify, address, and minimize impacts to fish and their habitats.
The tool generates a written report which allows for review and assessment of impacts of proposed offshore dredging on EFH in project areas anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico and US Atlantic continental shelf.