Draft Report Measures Health of Narragansett Bay

Narragansett Bay surf on the rocks | Photo by boliyou, via Wikimedia Commons

ecoRI.org: The first round of public meetings for the draft report on the status of Narragansett Bay has generated important feedback.  The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program’s draft report “State of the Bay and its Watershed” assesses 24 indicators throughout the bay and its watershed (some 60% of the watershed is in Massachusetts) based on best available science and current research efforts.

Numerous indicators provide a glimpse into the health of the Narragansett Bay ecosystem. Some key findings include:

* As of 2015, 171,244 acres of natural open-space land had been protected, representing more than 15% of the Narragansett Bay watershed. However, 17% of the watershed’s significant natural lands remain unprotected and could be developed.

* From 2006 to 2012, Narragansett Bay showed substantial gains in seagrass acreage, although these gains aren’t enough to replace the acreage lost since the 1940s.

* Current data suggest that opportunistic seasonal migrant species have displaced demersal resident species in the bay, partly due to increasing water temperatures. All of these changes have altered the character of the Narragansett Bay fish community from a typical southern New England temperate estuarine community to one that is trending toward a Mid-Atlantic estuarine community.

Public comments on the draft report will be accepted until the close of business May 22. Comments should be e-mailed to info@nbep.org. The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program (NBEP) will revise and finalize the report and prepare a summary based on public feedback.