Water transfer projects are commonly considered important mechanisms for meeting increasing water demands. However, the movement of water from one area to another may have broad ecosystem effects, including on fisheries. The Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society held a symposium in 1995 at Virginia Beach, Virginia, to discuss the ecological consequences of water transfer and identify the role of fisheries biologists in such projects. Presenters outlined several case studies, including the California State Water Project, Garrison Diversion Project (North Dakota), Lake Texoma Water Transfer Project (Oklahoma-Texas), Santee-Cooper Diversion and Re-diversion projects (South Carolina), and Tri-State Comprehensive Study (Alabama-Florida-Georgia). Results from these studies suggest that fisheries biologists have provided critical information regarding potential ecological consequences of water transfer. If these professionals continue to be called for information regarding the ecological consequences of water transfer projects, developing a broader understanding of the ecological processes that affect the fish species they manage may be necessary. Although the traditional role of fisheries biologists has focused on the fishing customer base, fisheries management issues are only one component of the broad spectrum of ecosystem issues resulting from water transfer.
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Water transfer projects and the role of fisheries biologists