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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Land and Water Stewardship - Water Column

Land and Water Stewardship

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Water Column Habitat

The Water Column is the basic habitat and the medium through which all other fish habitats are connected.

fish in water column

Ecosystem Enhancement

The water column provides the basic physical and chemical requirements for aquatic life and links all habitats.

Fish use of water column habitat

  • Water circulation transports eggs, larvae, food, and oxygen to nursery, spawning and foraging areas.
  • While all species occupy the water column, water column conditions are especially important for pelagic species such as river herring, Atlantic menhaden and bluefish.

Some importants facts

  • A total of 1,315 miles of freshwater streams and nearly 70,000 acres of estuarine waters in coastal river basins were rated as “impaired” in 1999.
  • River herring have not recovered despite greatly reduced fishing effort starting in 1995.
  • More than 1,000 acres of Outstanding Resource Waters were permanently closed to shellfish harvest between 1990 and 2000.
  • From 1996 to 2005, more than 380 fish kill events were reported in coastal river basins.

How’s it Doing?

  • Water pollution is increasing with growth in human population and supporting development.
  • Runoff from land-disturbance and impervious surfaces clogs streams and creeks with sediments, excess nutrients, and toxic chemicals.
  • Changes in land cover from vegetated open spaces to hardened surfaces has also reduced filtration of runoff and accelerated freshwater flow to adjacent water bodies.
  • Impacts on the water column have the most far-reaching effects on the ecosystem.

 

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