DRAFT - Historical Trends in Water Quality and Fisheries Resources in Galveston Bay, Texas



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Institute for Coastal and Marine Resources, East Carolina University


Despite great interest and large expenditures for estuarine management through water quality, fisheries and coastal management programs, there has not been a systematic comparative evaluation of the long-term trends in conditions of our estuaries and the living resources they support. Consequently, little is known about the effectiveness of past and present management programs. Recent studies focused on comparisons of short-term annual cycles among wide variety of estuaries. Examples include Nixon (1983) and Boynton et al. (1982). Other recent studies have analyzed trends within a single system or region. Examples of these studies include Cloern and Nichols (1985) for San Francisco Bay; Mayer (1982) for the New York Bight; Lee and Olsen (1970) for Narragansett Bay; and Summers and Polgar (1984) for four Northeastern estuaries. The overall goal of this study was to combine these approaches to prepare a systematic comparison of long-term trends of water quality in four important U.S. estuaries, and to try to relate the water quality trends to changes in fishery resources. The estuaries chosen for the study are Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, the Delaware Bay, the Pamlico River Estuary in North Carolina, and Galveston Bay in Texas. The project had four specific objectives: 1. To document long-term trends in water quality and, where possible, identify causes, consequences and significance. 2. To assess whether problems are similar or unique to each estuary. 3. To assess whether progress is being made in improving conditions in water quality and fishery resources and whether there are examples of success that would be useful for estuarine managers and researchers elsewhere. 4. To glean examples of the useful integration of research and policy. The hope is that this will provide a basis for future assessment of the effectiveness of man's attempts up to the present to manage these ecosystems.


Approximately 150 pages


management effectiveness, long term trends, Pamlico Bay, Delaware Bay, Narragansett Bay, water quality, natural resources management, fisheries management