Louisiana Estuaries: Issues, Resources, Status and Management

by Donald F. Boesch, Louisiana Univ Marine Consortium, Chauvin, LA, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '87


Louisiana has more extensive estuarine environments than any other state. These estuaries are comparatively young, having been formed in part by the building and destruction of lobes of the Mississippi River delta. Louisiana estuaries are shallow and characterized by extensive marshes and swamps, comprising approximately 40% of U. S. coastal wetlands. The fisheries yield of these estuaries on an areal basis is among the highest in any aquatic ecosystem; consequently they are responsible for over 40% of the estuarine-dependent fisheries biomass landed in the U. S. Despite the fact that the human population surrounding most of these estuaries is relatively sparse, they are among the highly modified by human activities. Conflicting uses are at the heart of the problem; these include habitation (particularly through flood protection measures), fishing, hunting and trapping, transportation, energy production and waste disposal. These result not only in habitat modification, but in entrophication and contamination by toxic substances and human pathogens. Because of the extensive modification which has taken place and the fast pace of environmental degradation, regulatory, prohibitive management alone is insufficient. Active and comprehensive management, including river diversions and other hydrological controls and wetlands restoration, is required.

Subject Headings: Estuaries | Resource management | Wetlands (coastal) | Water pollution | Fish and fishery management | Rivers and streams | Ecological restoration | Population projection | Louisiana | United States | Mississippi River

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