Places We Protect

Mid-Atlantic Seascape

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 Solutions
  • We worked closely with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body (RPB) to help develop a regional ocean plan based on robust science that provides strong commitments to conservation and considers the needs of traditional and emerging commercial and recreational users in the context of sustainability of natural resources.
  • 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.

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.

Contact Us

Jay Odell
Director, Mid-Atlantic Marine Program

Explore the Mid-Atlantic


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