According to the 1986 Long Island Sound Study (LISS) Annual Report, we were into our second year of “a five-year project” focusing on three major problems: 1) toxic contamination, 2) low dissolved oxygen concentrations, and 3) the health of fish and shellfish. There was some certainty that toxic contamination would be the predominant water quality issue in the Sound, and much of the funded “staff ” (including the article authors and Howard Golub at the Interstate Sanitation Commission) effort was directed towards reviewing data. Hypoxia was breaking news based on early surveys by Dr. Don Rhoads of Yale University and Dr. Barbara Welsh of the University of Connecticut and soon elbowed toxic contamination to the sidelines.
The FY 1985 Work Plan was an ambitious one, given the half million dollars or so that LISS partners had to share. We simply had to create a comprehensive database; report on water, sediment, and biota toxic contamination problems in the Sound; supplement data by monitoring and field surveys (fortunately NOAA chipped in $300,000 of effort in that area); develop pollutant loadings; identify trends; assess risks to consumers and the resource; and relate problems to sources, both point and nonpoint. In our spare time, we were to complete parallel tasks to flesh out the hypoxia problem while an energetic Eric Smith was leading the effort to compile fisheries catch statistics for the “Principal Fisheries of Long Island Sound, 1961-1985”, without LISS funding we might add. This fisheries report was a critical starting off point for the Living Marine Resource Committee, which was formed to assess how the resources were being affected by the identified problems, especially hypoxia. The work of that committee laid the groundwork for the new marine dissolved oxygen criteria.
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