skip to main content | skip to footer
North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Water Quality Threats to Habitat

Marine Fisheries

Water Quality Degradation Threats to Coastal Habitats

8-point rule

 
 

Bacterial Contamination

Habitats Affected:

Water column, shell bottom

Common Sources:

Stormwater runoff, failing septic systems, overloaded sewage systems

Impacts:

  • Public health risks leading to restrictions on
  • swimming
  • shellfish consumption
  • Permanent or temporary closures of shellfish harvesting waters
  • Water-borne illness

back to top

Excessive Turbidity/Sedimentation

Habitats Affected:

Water column, shell bottom, SAV, soft bottom, ocean hard bottom

Common Sources:

Construction sites, runoff from agriculture, forestry, roads, mining, resuspension from dredging, and bottom-disturbing fishing activities

Impacts

  • Elevated turbidity impacts the ability of SAV plants to survive and grow.
  • Suspended sediment in the water column can clog fish gills, deter successful recruitment of invertebrates onto shell bottom or ocean hard bottom, reduce feeding success of visually oriented predators.
  • Excess sedimentation can cover shell bottom and ocean hard bottom, and fill in shallow creeks and rivers.
  • Suspended sediments transport bacteria and toxins through coastal waters, making them available to aquatic organisms in the water column.

back to top

Nutrient Enrichment and Oxygen Depletion

Habitats Affected:

Water column, shell bottom, SAV, wetlands, soft bottom, ocean hard bottom

Common Sources:

Wastewater discharges, nonpoint runoff from agriculture, urban areas, animal operations, and air emissions

Impacts:

  • Excess nutrients fuel phytoplankton blooms in the water column, which can contribute to low oxygen events in the water column and bottom sediments, causing fish kills and mortality of fish and non-mobile invertebrates in the water column, soft bottom, or shell bottom communities.
  • Reduced light availability in the water column from plankton blooms and excessive epiphytic growth impacts the ability of SAV plants to survive and grow.
  • High levels of nitrogen can cause mortality of eelgrass.
  • Excess nutrient loading can result in toxic blooms such as red tide or Pfiesteria outbreaks

back to top

Toxic Chemical Contamination

Habitats Affected:

Water column, shell bottom, SAV, wetlands, soft bottom, ocean hard bottom

Common Sources:

Wastewater discharges, nonpoint runoff from agriculture, urban areas, animal operations, and air emissions

Impacts:

  • Excess nutrients fuel phytoplankton blooms in the water column, which can contribute to low oxygen events in the water column and bottom sediments, causing fish kills and mortality of fish and non-mobile invertebrates in the water column, soft bottom, or shell bottom communities.
  • Reduced light availability in the water column from plankton blooms and excessive epiphytic growth impacts the ability of SAV plants to survive and grow.
  • High levels of nitrogen can cause mortality of eelgrass.
  • Excess nutrient loading can result in toxic blooms such as red tide or Pfiesteria outbreaks.

back to top

Web Content Display Web Content Display
N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

NC logo

38337 FEEDBACK

Your input is valuable to us. Please send us your feedback.

What type of feedback would you like to send?*

Ask a Question Report a Problem Have a Concern Make a Comment

(If you would like us to respond please include your phone or e-mail.)

Your Question has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Problem has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Concern has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Comment has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

*If you are a DENR employee with an I.T. issue, please submit a DOTS ticket.