Essential Fish Habitat Characterization
Many fish species rely on coastal wetlands when they are young as these habitats provide ample food and protection from predators. Identifying the habitat features of the most productive fish nurseries enables further protection of targeted areas. Fine-scale environmental characteristics can help understand fish habitat preferences; this includes identifying the route juvenile fish use to access backwater habitat and the ecological complexity of the habitat. This knowledge helps environmental resource managers protect and restore the most important fish nurseries. Protecting these areas should ultimately increase coastal fish populations and help support the recreational fishery.