Northern Gulf Institute (NGI) researchers are implementing an overall Ecosystem Approach to Management (EAM) effort, and with support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NGI's Ecosystem Team has just completed Integrated Ecosystem Assessments (IEAs) for four northern Gulf of Mexico estuaries: Galveston Bay, Texas; Barataria Basin, Louisiana; Mississippi Sound in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama; and Perdido Bay, Florida. The four estuaries selected represented a variety of northern Gulf of Mexico estuarine ecosystems over a narrow range of latitude, and offered ample opportunities for contrast and comparison in the assessments.
Background: This work was performed with funding from the National Marine Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to the Northern Gulf Institute, and involved a multi-institution, interdisciplinary team including the Northern Gulf Institute academic partners and the Environmental Protection Agency. The overall goal of this effort is to contribute toward the NOAA goal of an Ecosystem Approach to Management and bringing Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP) concepts to systems and regions throughout the northern Gulf of Mexico. The work fits within the Northern Gulf Institute’s themes, specifically: Ecosystem-based management; Geospatial data/information and visualization in environmental science; and Climate change and climate variability effects on regional ecosystems.
Significance: Ecosystem management is similar to management of other natural resources – using a systems approach is advocated across a spectrum of resource types – air, land, water, and biota – and across the globe. A systems approach to resources management is defined as managing resources holistically -- with the knowledge that the human ecosystem includes a variety of components that interact with each other through processes, behaviors, and feedback mechanisms which must be elucidated in order to describe the effects of external forces and internal actions. It was determined that human-related processes dominated all four of the estuaries involved. Ecosystem stresses include increased fishing pressures, urban/coastal development, boat traffic, nutrients from runoff, and increased pollution. The results and models created by the Team can be used to evaluate strategies for environmentally and economically-sustainable development and use.
Contact: Dr. William McAnally, Mississippi State University, is the contact for the IEA project.
View the full Ecosystem Assessment Management Report.