Symposium Summary: Effects of Drought on Aquatic Resources, Fisheries Management, and Mitigation Strategies

Pedernales River arm of Lake Travis, Texas, at 46.52 feet below normal. Photo credit: Chase Fountain, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Pedernales River arm of Lake Travis, Texas, at 46.52 feet below normal. Photo credit: Chase Fountain, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Sponsors: AFS Estuaries Section, Fish Habitat Section, and Water Quality Section

Prolonged and intense drought as a result of climate change is becoming a more frequent occurrence in many parts of the world with varying impacts to freshwater and marine fisheries resources. Coupled with increased human water demands, reservoir, river, and estuarine systems face unprecedented drought-induced stress including reduced instream flows and freshwater inflows, reduced or fluctuating water levels, and altered water quality. Documentation of biological and economic impacts of drought on game and non-game fish species were common themes throughout the 2-day symposium. Planning for the impacts of future droughts, influencing water allocation policy to benefit aquatic systems, and on-the-ground mitigation during drought were much less common, although some effective and creative approaches were presented. Broad efforts by the fisheries community to influence multi-stakeholder water management plans and prepare mitigation plans to minimize the impacts of future droughts are needed.  To be effective in the complex arena of water allocation and drought mitigation planning multidisciplinary teams of experts are required. Forming teams which include federal, state, and local natural resource representatives for planning efforts, and coordinating those efforts when drought returns, is an area warranting attention by the fisheries community. Read the abstracts here.

—Stephan Magnelia and Kevin Mayes, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department