NOAA released a new and interactive Eessential Fish Habitat map this week, which shows locations of habitat, gear restrictions and closed areas, and species locations. This is version 2.0, and a few clicks confirm that NOAA’s worked all the bugs out of this system. It runs smoothly, allowing you to choose geographic region, fish species, and protected areas. Here’s what the screen looked like, when I dialed in tilefish for the Mid Atlantic region:
As you can see, it clearly outlines the tilefish’s habitat area on the map. Although it appears the system is designed mostly so commercial guys can look at exactly which areas are closed at any given time, this system could come in handy for us recreational saltwater fishermen simply because it also outlines the fish’s distribution area. You had no idea where to go to try and catch tilefish off the Virginia coast? Well, now you do – just check out EFH 2.0!
Another interesting thing the mapper gives you is the ability to check out closed areas of the Gulf. Wondering just how much of its waters are closed to shrimping, thanks to this oil spill? Check it out:
Yes, it’s basically all shut down, and with 2.0 you can see excatly how much and where the shrimpers have been effected. So no matter who you are or what you do, NOAA’s EFH mapper 2.0 could be of interest. To check it out, just go to http://www.habitat.noaa.gov/essential-fish-habitat-mapper.html and click on EFH mapper.