MassBays works primarily in the near-shore, estuarine systems of the region, in light of the strong leadership of Massachusetts’ watershed associations, and the significant and effective investment the Commonwealth has made in ocean planning. To support this work and as an alternative to a coastal delineation that uses municipal boundaries, MassBays uses ecosystem-based landward and seaward boundaries to define the MassBays planning area. Using these boundaries and geospatially available data, a glimpse into the relative ecological condition of estuaries within Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays was assessed.
The Estuary Delineation and Assessment Report file size 20MB (EDA) identifies 47 embayments within Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay. The EDA’s results are available here as a set of interactive maps that document resources and stressors in each of the embayments. The estuary assessment metrics were selected to focus on water quality conditions, estuarine habitat protection and restoration, and improvement of habitat continuity. Resource indicators assessed were: tidal flats, shorebird habitat, anadromous fish runs, salt marsh, and eelgrass beds. Stressor indicators included shellfish habitat, shorebird nesting sites, impervious area, stormwater discharge, land use change, population density, 303(d) impairments, fish barriers (impoundments), wastewater discharge, designated shellfish growing area classification, and stream crossings.
As MassBays moves forward, and with additional parameters and analyses, the EDA will serve as a baseline for tracking changes in estuarine conditions over time.
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