From Long Island to Cape Hatteras, this mid-section of the Atlantic encompasses coastal bays, barrier islands, deep submarine canyons, and ocean and seafloor habitats extending across the continental shelf.
Sea turtles, sharks, striped bass and tuna are just a few of the species that call these waters home. The Mid-Atlantic is also a virtual superhighway for migratory wildlife, including almost forty species of marine mammals. But more than 57 million people live, work, and play along this stretch of coastline as well.
A Vast Blue Frontier
With its rich history and maritime culture, we may romanticize the Mid-Atlantic as a vast blue frontier. The reality is that our ocean is surprisingly busy and has become increasingly crowded. Major ports on the east coast handled over nine million containers and 233 million tons of cargo in 2011.
Our Mid-Atlantic Seascape remains a highly productive and diverse marine system, but must also support shipping and ports, sport and commercial fishing, recreation and tourism, offshore sand mining, and a nascent offshore wind industry. It makes for a complex tapestry with sometimes competing priorities and needs. Our ocean’s management is divided among twenty-three different federal agencies attempting to enforce more than 140 often contradictory federal laws.
The Nature Conservancy has the opportunity address these complex challenges, to transform ocean management so that it balances the needs of people and nature – and helps to ensure that nature continues to provide the bounty we all need. We partner with decision-makers and ocean stakeholders, providing them with the sound, science-based data needed to develop the practical, solution-based ocean management strategies that will meet economic, societal, and conservation goals.
- Our collaborative approach brought fishermen, scientists, and ocean managers together to find solutions to a tough puzzle — how to protect ancient deep-sea coral habitats.
- We actively support MARCO (the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean), a regional planning body, and helped create America's first regional ocean planning data portal, a publicly accessible online mapping tool.
- We’re creating tools to enable good decisions related to siting wind energy, placing offshore transmission lines, and gaining information about future impacts.
- We worked with many partners, including environmental groups and recreational fishing groups, across fourteen states on a successful initiative to reduce the menhaden harvest by 20%. Menhaden play a crucial role as a food source for the ocean.
- In Delaware, we're partnering with the Center for Inland Bays (CIB) to launch an oyster shell recycling program. The recycled shells may be used in natural bulkheads and reefs that can help control erosion, buffer the coast from storms, and provide nurseries for baby oysters, crabs, and fish.
- In Maryland, our Nanticoke River partnership has permanently protected a 50-mile corridor along shoreline that is vulnerable to sea level rise, ensuring man-made infrastructure is kept out of high-risk areas.
- New Jersey is also working with partners to develop a first-of-its-kind screening tool to help promote nature-based infrastructure solutions. The Restoration Explorer will assist communities in identifying types of living shoreline projects that would be most appropriate to help reduce shoreline erosion and flooding at high tide.
- In New York, we've been working since 2004 to restore Great South Bay’s clam population in a three-pronged approach that includes stocking the bay with reproductive adult clams, helping to enact laws to protect the existing clam population, and working with partners to restore degraded water quality.
- In Virginia, we're expanding the Conservancy’s state-of-the-art Coastal Resilience planning tool to the Eastern Shore and restoring five oyster reefs to demonstrate nature-based solutions for risk reduction.
We can transform ocean management through science, expertise, and the practical tools that we bring to our partnerships. Most importantly, we’re a part of coastal communities and deeply invested in preserving the Mid-Atlantic Seascape for the benefit and enjoyment of generations to come.
Explore Our Mid-Atlantic Stories
An historic agreement protects ocean treasures across a seafloor area the size of Virginia. Dive deep
Recent research points to the critical value of natural habitats in protecting people from devastation by coastal storms like Hurricane Sandy. Explore
Making sure everyone has a fair share—and that fish stocks remain healthy enough to supply all—is the basis of fisheries management. A complex arrangement
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) is a multi-state and agency partnership established to address shared regional ocean priorities. Learn more