STEWARDS OF THE CAPE FEAR
The Cape Fear River Partnership was formed in 2011 with a vision of a healthy Cape Fear River for fish and people. The partnership’s mission is to restore and demonstrate the value of robust, productive, and self-sustaining stocks of migratory fish in the Cape Fear River.
Building on the momentum of the newly constructed fish passage at Lock & Dam #1, this partnership of key federal, state, local, academic, and other organizations in the region is working together on this multi-year action plan.
Using a broad range of tools and capabilities, we seek to provide long-term, habitat-based solutions for the most pressing challenges for migratory fish.
The partnership created four workgroups to delve into issue-areas identified as important to conserve migratory fish: fish passage, habitat, water quality and quantity, and socioeconomics. The Action Plan involved more than 18 months (2011 – 2013) of planning and prioritization by the partnership and is unique for the Cape Fear River basin due to its focus on migratory fish, coastal and inland habitat, and water quality needs.
WHO WE ARE
The Cape Fear River once supported thriving migratory fish populations including American shad, sturgeon, river herring, American eel, and striped bass. In fact, at the beginning of the 20th century, the Cape Fear River was one of the most productive rivers for American shad in North Carolina. Migratory fish populations within the Cape Fear River basin have declined substantially over the past two centuries, with current commercial landings 87 percent lower than historic estimates.
The partnership strives to measure achievement of our mission our success with the following targets: increased fish populations (as measured by catch-per-unit efforts, improved age structure, and other techniques), increased recreational fishing success for shad, striped bass, and river herring (as measured by creel surveys), and a re-opened striped bass and river herring harvest in the Cape Fear River.
NOAA IN THE CAPE FEAR
NOAA’s Office of Habitat Conservation initiated the formation of the Cape Fear River Partnership. In addition to supporting the Coordinator, NOAA has been among the integral partners working towards a healthy Cape Fear River and preserving its “immense ecological, economic, and recreational benefits for the local community.”
Several other NOAA divisions have played a role in the Cape Fear River Basin and Partnership such as the Damage Assessment and Restoration Program which executes restoration projects in cases of damaged habitats, and the National Ocean Service, Coastal Services Center (CSC) which has been analyzing data related to coastal wetland loss.
Using the best available information and expert knowledge, and built upon the work of other existing conservation plans, the Cape Fear River Partnership acknowledges several problem statements related to the health of migratory fish stocks in the Cape Fear River basin.
Sets of actions are designed to restore fish passage and improve habitat and water quality to revitalize populations of migratory fish and improve the overall condition of the river. Some of the current efforts include:
- Pursue opportunities to obtain material to fill scour hole below Lock and Dam #2 from the North Carolina Department of Transportation projects and other sources.
- Pursue priority dam removal projects on the Little River, including an evaluation of the breached, unnamed dam on Fort Bragg property.
- Assist NCDMF and NCWRC with future tagging and field sampling efforts for anadromous fish.
- Continue enforcement compliance with North Carolina state rules and permit conditions for projects impacting migratory fish habitat in the Cape Fear River.
DAWN YORK, COORDINATOR
The Cape Fear River Partnership Coordinator, Dawn York, is located in Wilmington, NC within the lower Cape Fear River watershed of North Carolina. Dawn works directly with each Team Lead Committee including Fish Passage, Habitat, Water Quality and Quantity, Outreach and Socioeconomic Committees to ensure a focused collaboration to meet the goals and targets set forth by the Partnership and the Final Action Plan (2013).
She has been integrally involved in supporting Bladen County in the award of $3.4 million for the construction of a rock arch ramp at Lock and Dam 2 and 3 in the Cape Fear River to allow fish passage of endangered and Federally managed anadromous fish species.
News on progress, partners, and actions on the Cape Fear.
World Fish Migration Week 2022
WORLD FISH MIGRATION WEEK 2022
North Carolina Aquatic Connectivity Team Meeting 2020
NORTH CAROLINA AQUATIC CONNECTIVITY TEAM MEETING 2020
Partnership Update: Lock & Dam 3
PARTNERSHIP UPDATE: LOCK & DAM 3
National Geographic: Striped Bass Population in the Cape Fear River
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: STRIPED BASS POPULATION IN THE CFR