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Water: Estuaries and Coastal Watersheds

Buzzards Bay

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Summary Information

Year Established: Established 1985. Accepted into the National Estuary Program in 1987.
Location: Massachusetts
Area of Watershed: 1,939 square kilometers

Priority Management Issues:
contaminated seafood
habitat loss/alteration

Major Habitat Types:
submerged aquatic vegetation (sea grass)
shellfish growing areas
salt/brackish marsh
forested wetland
salt ponds

Federally Endangered or Threatened Species:
roseate tern

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Overviews and Highlights

Buzzards Bay provides diverse habitat of salt marshes, sandy beaches, eelgrass beds, small embayments, tidal streams and urban ports. The waters of the Bay are used for shellfishing, swimming, boating, and marine transportation. Buzzards Bay as a whole is still considered a relatively healthy watershed. However, waters of the smaller embayments are threatened by increasing amounts of contamination. Pollution associated with residential development, industrial wastes, and sewage contamination, as indicated by fecal coliform bacteria and elevated nitrogen levels, contributes to a decline of water quality in some locations. The Buzzards Bay Management Plan identified the following problems that require management attention: health risks from pathogens associated with the improper treatment or disposal of human wastes, and the subsequent closure of shellfish beds; excessive nutrient inputs into the Bay; contamination of fish, shellfish, and lobsters by toxic substances; and loss of habitat and resources.

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