Habitat Restoration and Mitigation
Ports & Harbors

Integrating Mitigation During Port Development

June 13, 2022 – Principal Scientist Dan Berlin

Port managers, port commissions, and councils recognize the value of mitigation—particularly when aquatic and habitat conservation credit programs enable ports to rehabilitate ecological functions while facilitating economic growth. In carrying out their mission to support trade and commerce, port development projects may result in environmental impacts, including the loss of wetlands and open-water habitats and impacts to sensitive species. Ports must balance their commercial and economic goals with responsible environmental resource management while meeting regulatory requirements. 

Federal, state, and local regulations and decision-making guidelines require development projects to avoid or minimize environmental impacts as much as possible. These restorative actions are governed by agreements with regulatory agencies that establish credits for each habitat type created or restored. Ports can use the compensatory credits earned through restoration, enhancement, establishment, or preservation of desired habitats for future development projects or sell them outright. Many ports realize that both options can generate revenue.

Ports can either mitigate unavoidable habitat impacts on an individual project basis, or they can conduct advance mitigation to address the needs of future development.  Principal Scientist Dan Berlin discusses the implementation of advance mitigation programs that are more cost-effective and can create a self-sustaining line of business resulting in a new source of revenue for ports.

Video footage provided by the Port of Seattle.