ASMFC Releases “Living Shorelines: Impacts of Erosion Control Strategies on Coastal Habitats”

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The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has announced the release of the tenth publication in its habitat management series, entitled “Living Shorelines: Impacts of Erosion Control Strategies on Coastal Habitats.” Living shorelines, or soft shorelines, are an approach to shoreline stabilization that preserves natural sand edge or vegetated shoreline.

An increasingly popular management strategy along the Atlantic coast, living shorelines not only control erosion but create environmentally desirable features, including habitat and vegetated buffers that improve water quality and reduce the effects of upland run-off.  Unlike traditional bulkhead or revetment approaches to shoreline protection, living shorelines also tend to dissipate rather than reflect wave energy.

The document provides a brief overview of traditional erosion control methods and living shorelines, as well as the types of habitats that may be considered when creating living shorelines. It identifies the impacts of some shoreline erosion control measures on the environment, and presents examples of how various regulatory authorities are involved.

To illustrate the value of living shorelines in a “real world” setting, the document provides a case study of their use in Maryland. This document should not be considered a complete review of existing living shorelines literature. That information can be found in other documents included in the bibliography.

Appendix B suggests potential erosion control projects. The purpose of this document is to provide resource managers and the general public with a concise comparative discussion of the benefits of living shorelines, and a case study of successful projects to use for reference within their own programs.

“Living Shorelines: Impacts of Erosion Control Strategies on Coastal Habitats” is available on the Commission’s website at under Breaking news, or through the direct link at:

It is also available on CD-ROM; please send requests to (Subject line: Living Shorelines CD).

A limited amount of printed copies will be published. If you are interested in receiving one, please contact Tina Berger at or 202/289-6400.

Other reports available through the Commission’s habitat management series include:

* Atlantic Coast Diadromous Fish Habitat: A Review of Utilization, Threats, Recommendations for Conservation, and Research Needs (January 2009)

* The Importance of Habitat Created by Molluscan Shellfish to Managed Species along the Atlantic Coast of the United States (May 2007)

* Beach Nourishment: A Review of the Biological and Physical Impacts (November 2002)

source: ASMFC press release

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