Recognize the value of our
nation's estuaries, and protect and restore them for current
and future generations.
Estuaries, where fresh water
from rivers mixes with salt water from the oceans, are among
the most productive environments on Earth. These transition zones
from land to sea provide unique habitat for more than 75% of
the U.S. commercial and 85% of the U.S. recreational fisheries.
Estuaries are also popular places to live, work, and enjoy outdoor
activities. More than 28 million jobs in the U.S. are created
in association with estuaries, and more than 70% of Americans
swim, boat, and fish in them.
Increasing pressures from inland
activities and coastal development are causing habitat loss and
degradation, fisheries declines, and overall reductions in estuarine
health and productivity. Associated physical alterations, such
as dredging, damming, and bulkheading, change the natural flow
of fresh water to estuaries, affecting water quality, fish spawning,
and the survival and distribution of living resources. Removal
of vegetation can also affect water quality by causing increased
erosion and siltation. Toxic substances and excess nutrients
contribute to fish diseases, algal blooms, and low dissolved
oxygen and can pose a threat to the health of humans and estuarine
wildlife. The introduction of nonindigenous species is also affecting
the ecological diversity of many estuarine environments, eradicating
naturally occurring species and destroying essential habitat.
- Federal activities that affect
estuaries are not always well integrated.
- Monitoring efforts in estuaries
are often fragmented and not incorporated into overall monitoring
data and analysis, hindering the ability of managers to evaluate
and modify the effectiveness of their programs.
- Information on estuaries is
often collected without reference to overall national research
goals, or without the technological means to share and combine
the data with other research efforts.
- Many people living inland
and at a distance from the coast are unaware of how their actions
- Improve communication and
coordination among the various federal agencies and programs
sharing responsibility for estuarine protection.
- Coordinate federal programs
with tribal, state, and local smart growth initiatives to more
efficiently implement on-the-ground solutions.
- Improve estuarine monitoring
activities and data reporting to facilitate an adaptive management
- Create a national framework
for estuarine research.
- Increase public understanding
of the connections between human activities and estuarine health
through improved education and outreach.
- Seek Congressional support
for the Clinton/Gore Lands Legacy Initiative, which would provide
essential funding for the National Estuarine Research Reserve
System and the National Estuary Program.
For more information
The National Estuarine Research
Reserve System is network of field laboratories that study and
improve the health of degraded coastlines, linking programs of
stewardship, public education, and scientific understanding.
The National Estuary Program uses a collaborative approach to
protect estuaries by encouraging states, communities, businesses,
and the public to work together to effectively manage, restore,
and protect their valuable estuarine resources.