Development, particularly in sensitive shoreline areas, can have significant impact on marine or freshwater aquatic habitats. Any project that calls for development of shoreline property goes through a rigorous environmental review from the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Washington Department of Ecology, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. These agencies (and sometimes others) require that any habitat lost because of shoreline development be replaced completely.
Because most ports are in urban areas, the shoreline habitats affected by port development are often already degraded. When that is the case, ports have the opportunity to improve an estuary or riverine area by restoring or creating new natural areas where they are most needed. Careful planning in conjunction with tribes and agencies can often improve habitats in urban areas while also improving port facilities and creating new jobs.