This program is vital to the Coalition meeting the objectives identified by its Board of Directors to:
- Increase awareness of waterfront access issues by educating municipal officials and the public. Make presentations at local meetings, events, and festivals.
- Educate state legislators on the importance of the Gulf Coast to the economy of the entire state of Alabama and help elevate working waterfront issues to a state-wide concern and present them to elected officials.
- Work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on issues of channel maintenance, dredged materials usage and reporting metrics.
- Establish a safe harbor to provide commercial fishermen safe locations in the event of a tropical storm system.
The project objectives will be met through developing a communications plan for increasing awareness among, and educating and informing, various audiences of the breadth and importance of the various facets of Alabama’s working waterfronts. The Coalition board of directors will develop an education/outreach/marketing plan and work with a graphic designers to develop a logo, graphic identity and promotional/educational materials to meet these needs.
The Alabama Working Waterfront Coalition has been established to strengthen the relationship among various industry and community sectors that rely on, and to educate the general public about the importance of, the state’s working waterfronts.
Water-dependent industries and activities contribute enormously through revenue and jobs to the local and state economies. Areas of particular importance include:
- Commercial fishing
- Marine Trades
- Tourism & recreation
- Residential lifestyles
Preliminary research shows water-related industries in Alabama employed roughly 48,661 full-time and part-time jobs in 2009, amounting to $1.4 billion in wages. Of these positions, 18,244 were employed by 950 water-related businesses located in Mobile and Baldwin counties, totaling $514 million in wages. The economic activity of these businesses also brought $1.5 billion to Mobile and Baldwin counties’ economies.
These industries and additional water-related businesses critically rely on access to the water for space to work, harvest, and process. In addition, these businesses rely on one another, creating an economic base in coastal communities. A shrinking amount of accessible waterfront for these businesses has created greater conflict and increased potentially dangerous situations, including insufficient and crowded docking and launching areas. As the population and density on our coast grows, maintaining balance between traditional and new uses will be of vital importance.
To guarantee public access for current and future generations, preservation of public access points must be considered during the planning and development of our coastline. The Coalition’s primary mission is to ensure that consideration among a variety of audiences by bringing working waterfront issues to the forefront. To that end, the Coalition has been officially incorporated and its Board of Directors will now undertake the development of an ongoing program of work. The first element of that program has been identified as the need for an education/outreach/marketing program.
Partners in the Alabama Working Waterfront Coalition and this marketing effort include representation on the Board of Directors from the Alabama State Port Authority, Bayou La Batre Chamber of Commerce, Boat People S.O.S., City of Bayou La Batre, City of Gulf Shores, Town of Dauphin Island, Organized Seafood Association of Alabama and Saunders Yachtworks as well as Alabama Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau.