Important Bird Areas

Outer Banks Inshore Ocean

North Carolina

This site includes the inshore waters along the northern Outer Banks between Cape Hatteras and the North Carolina?Virginia state line. The eastern and western boundaries of the site include an area of ocean from the surf zone to approximately 5 km (3 miles) offshore. This is a rich and productive area of ocean that supports a diverse assemblage of birds and other marine life throughout the year.

Conservation Issues

Bycatch of birds in commercial fishing gear, entanglement of birds in discarded monofilament fishing line, oil spill from ship traffic offshore, offshore wind energy development, natural gas and oil extraction.

Commercial fishermen set nets throughout the area. Studies have indicated that these commercial fishing activities are responsible for the death of more than a thousand diving birds annually. The primary species impacted include Northern Gannet, Common Loon, Red-breasted Merganser, and Double-crested Cormorant. Studies of the use of this area by migrating waterbirds are needed. Also needed are studies of the impact of commercial fishing activities on diving and fish-eating birds in the area. North Carolina is forming a task force to work with the United States Office of Minerals and Mines to formulate guidelines for offering leases for wind energy development and natural gas exploration.

Ownership

The site is currently afforded no formal protection. North Carolina Marine Fisheries and the National Marine Fisheries Service govern fishing activities.

Habitat

Inshore open ocean.

Land Use

Commercial and recreational fishing.

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