Importance to You

Galveston Bay has been named an “estuary of national significance” by the United States Congress and a “Great Water” by America’s Great Waters Coalition. The well-being of Galveston Bay is critical to the vitality of the region. Chances are if you live, work, study, or recreate in or around Houston, you directly depend on Galveston Bay in some way.

  • Half the population of Texas currently lives in the Galveston Bay watershed.
  • The bay supports a wide array of human uses, including marine transportation, industrial, agricultural, fisheries, residential, recreational, and tourism.
  • The Houston-Galveston region owes much of its economic viability to ports and shipping, and its area grew as a result of its proximity to good ports. The Port of Houston ranks first in the nation for waterborne commerce and is the second largest port in the U.S., based on tonnage.
  • The Galveston Bay area is the petrochemical production capital of the nation, and the second largest complex in the world. Approximately one-third of the nation’s petroleum refining occurs in the Bay area.
  • Agriculture mainly occurs on the eastern side of the Bay, with the most important products being livestock, rice, sorghum, soybeans, and corn.
  • Commercial and recreational fishing are very important to the region. According to NOAA’s State of the Coast website, in 2010, Texas ranked first in the nation for commercial catch of important species such as brown shrimp and second in the nation for white shrimp, Eastern oysters, black drum, and red snapper, among others.
  • Recreational boating in this area remains popular, with Galveston Bay having the third highest concentration of privately-owned marinas in the nation.
  • Recreational hobbies such as birding are popular in and around Galveston Bay, and people come from all over the world to witness bird migrations in the spring.