|Blue crab (Callinectes sapidus), |
[Photo: Texas Parks and Wildlife]
Why is the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Region special?
The Gulf of Mexico coastal region is a unique area where the land meets the sea. The Gulf Coast is home to a number of habitats including but not limited to riparian forests, coastal prairies, salt marshes, seagrass beds, and mangroves. The diversity of habitats allows for an abundance of wildlife including migratory birds and numerous species of fish, shellfish, mammals, and reptiles. Some species of special significance found in the region are protected by state and federal regulations and international treaties. Others are valued for their commercial or recreational uses or the joy that they bring to coastal residents and visitors that view them in their natural environment. All rely upon balanced and productive ecosystems for their continued well-being.
What are the issues?
As is often the case when fragile ecosystems and wildlife communities reside alongside areas of human development, a number of stressors exist. The degree to which a stressor impacts a natural resource determines whether or not that stressor is recognized as a coastal issue. Every person, or stakeholder, living and working in the coastal zone has a different opinion regarding an issue's scope and importance. However, a number of issues are generally recognized along the Gulf Coast, such as development and habitat loss, water quality degradation and hypoxia, declining trends in wildlife populations, seafood safety, fisheries harvest, freshwater inflows, coastal erosion and subsidence, the importance of habitats such as bays, estuaries and coastal wetlands, Gulf Coast seagrass, and invasives species.