The Gulf Coast is home to a diverse array of organisms. Fish and wildlife resources provide some of the Gulf Coast's greatest economic, recreational and aesthetic assets. Bays and estuaries of the Gulf Coast maintain important recreational and commercial fisheries for species of oysters, shrimp, crab, and finfish.
Coastal fisheries populations can be impacted by a number of human actions including commercial and recreational fishing, coastal development, dredge and fill activities, and climate change. Fishing pressure results in the direct removal of species as well as unintended consequences of bycatch and angler-induced mortality. Coastal development can introduce nutrients (e.g., phosphates and nitrates) and pollutants (e.g., dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs) to estuarine waters, sediments, and bay food webs and, along with dredge and fill activities, may remove important nursery habitats such as coastal wetlands and seagrass beds. Climate change may result in increasing water temperatures and increased frequency and intensity of coastal storms.
With all of these stresses being placed on coastal fisheries, it is important to monitor them to determine whether populations are increasing or decreasing and whether management actions may be necessary. Scientific monitoring of Texas' coastal fisheries resources is conducted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). Scientific monitoring of Louisiana's coastal fisheries resources is conducted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF).Along with fisheries-dependent commercial and recreational harvest data (i.e., landings data) , fisheries-independent data are used to assess population trends in organisms. These collections also play an important role in the effort to manage freshwater inflows to ensure a sound ecological environment for bays and estuaries. Applications developed by the Houston Advanced Research Center; data courtesy of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.