WESTPORT, Conn. (AP) – Fish such as black seabass and summer flounder that prefer warm water are appearing more frequently in Long Island Sound because of climate change, according to a report released Monday on the health of the sound.
And fish such as winter flounder, Atlantic herring and red herring that prefer cold water are slowly decreasing, according to the report by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The report also warned about pollution caused by human activity. Although Long Island Sound is in good health overall, the report said, stormwater runoff from streets, roofs and parking lots carry pollutants such as nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment into the sound. Septic systems and fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides used in agriculture and landscaping also pollute the sound.
Beach closures in the summer because of high bacteria levels and shellfish beds that must be monitored for contamination are among the “visible impacts” to residents and communities, the report said.
Data were collected by government agencies in Connecticut, New York state, New York City and university partners. The evaluation covers the entire Long Island Sound, a watershed that is home to 9 million people and includes about 1,300 square miles and nearly 1 million acres of open and coastal waters.
The assessment, which was conducted by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, also found that fisheries such as oysters, scallops and lobsters and salt marshes and seagrasses that once were widespread have been reduced due to environmental degradation. It cites development, fishing and climate change.
Warming water in the sound has been an issue for at least a couple of years. Connecticut’s Millstone nuclear power plant won permission last year from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to use water as warm as 80 degrees Fahrenheit, up from 75 degrees, to cool key components of its two units. The water is discharged back into the sound.
With low bacteria levels, areas were accessible to swimming most of the time.
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