The Nation’s Coastal Management Agency

“Coastal management” is a term that covers the decisions and actions taken to keep the natural environment, built environment, quality of life, and economic prosperity of our coastal areas in balance. The Coastal Zone Management Act is the guiding legislation for this purpose, and NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management is the federal agency tasked with implementation.

Coastal management issues are broad and challenging. Communities and the nation are constantly grappling with the best ways to address storm preparedness, erosion, development, habitat loss, sea level rise, public access, and threats to water quality, to name a few. As a scientific organization, NOAA provides access to the science and environmental intelligence communities need for these tasks.

Four major programs make up the Office for Coastal Management, and each counts on active partnerships with all sectors to be successful.

  • National Coastal Zone Management Program – A unique federal and state partnership that provides the most direct implementation of coastal management policy. Thirty-four states have a federally approved coastal management program.
  • National Estuarine Research Reserves – Leading the nation’s estuary science efforts, this program produces groundbreaking research and provides environmental health data. The network of 28 protected areas also contributes local, science-based training and education programs and provides unique recreational opportunities.
  • NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program – Provides the sound science needed to preserve, sustain, and restore coral reef ecosystems.
  • Digital Coast – This website is the go-to source for the coastal management data, tools, and training most needed by communities. This initiative takes it a step further, however, by bringing various user groups together (the Digital Coast Partnership) to address coastal issues.

Office for Coastal Management