Texas Bays and Estuaries

Texas bays and estuaries are some of the most biologically productive places in the marine environment. Most of the fish and invertebrate species people are familiar with spend large parts of their sub-adult periods in the sea grass areas or near the shorelines.

The wetlands areas are also sources of food and protection for shore birds, small mammals, and terrestrial invertebrates like crabs. Artificial reefs in both bays and offshore provide food and protection functions similar to wetlands on shore.

Coastal Ecosystems

The Coastal Fisheries Division manages the marine fishery resources of Texas' four million acres of saltwater, including the bays and estuaries and out to nine nautical miles in the Gulf of Mexico. Coastal Fisheries management strategies are directed toward optimizing the long-term utilization of the marine resources of Texas. This management is designed to sustain harvest at levels that are n ecessary to ensure replenishable stocks of commercially and recreationally important species and to provide for balanced food webs within Texas marine ecosystems.

Technical data to assess population levels and develop appropriate fishing regulations are collected through coast wide, year-round standardized monitoring programs. In addition, life history studies and genetic research provide state-of-the-art knowledge for enhancing fishery stocks.

Three world-class hatchery facilities directly enhance populations of several game fish to increase abundance and help offset impacts of natural catastrophes. The Coastal Fisheries staff work closely with other Department Divisions as well as federal and international fishery management agencies to provide optimum opportunities from and conservation for the rich biological diversity inherent in Texas' marine waters. Access and restriction information is available for boaters.

Nine Coastal Ecosystems in Texas

Texas's nine coastal ecosystems are listed below or can be viewed in a map.