Habitat assessment is the process of collecting, analyzing, and reporting the best available information on habitat characteristics as they relate to the population dynamics of living marine resources. The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office performs habitat assessments on a range of Bay habitats including historic oyster bottom and sturgeon spawning grounds. The data the Office collects is shared with partner agencies and organizations to enhance their ability to manage and protect critical habitat.
The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office's habitat assessment efforts include acoustic seafloor mapping which deterrmines the distribution of benthic habitats and biological assessment, including the identification of species' spatial and temporal distributions and their species-habitat affinities. This information forms the underlying scientific basis for adaptive ecosystem-based protection, restoration, and management decisions that are the responsibility of NOAA and its partners. The ultimate goal of restoring the Chesapeake Bay is a function of understanding and then protecting habitats with respect to living resource production and the condition of the ecosystem.