Working Waterfronts

Summary for Working Waterfronts

Issues related to access to the working waterfront have come to the national forefront. Increased development and expanding coastal populations are threatening water access for working waterfront businesses and the general public.  In its 2007 report Access to the Waterfront: Issues and Solutions across the Nation, Sea Grant describes how increased development and expanding coastal populations are decreasing water access for working waterfront businesses and the general public.

Traditionally, the coastal counties of Mississippi and Alabama have relied on access to the water for their livelihood. Generations of families operate fishing boats, seafood processing facilities, boat yards, and support industries which require working waterfronts to function. These water-dependent industries contribute to the local community culture and character as well as have tremendous economic impacts on the state. For example, in 2011 the commercial seafood industry landed 26.4 million pounds of seafood in Alabama and 278 million pounds in Mississippi, amounting to $51.6 million and $30.3 million in revenue respectively.

MASGC provides education and outreach to the community regarding issues surrounding the working waterfront, such as coordinating the Alabama Water Access Study Committee created by the Alabama Legislature in 2008; providing research and technical assistance to the city of Gulf Shores, Alabama during the development of their Waterway Village Overlay District; and organizing the coordinated display at the 2013 Bayou La Batre Blessing of the Fleet.

The MASGC has partnered with Maine Sea Grant and the National Sea Grant Law Center to provide information for coastal communities on the laws and policies governing coastal access in Mississippi and Alabama. To learn more, visit the websites:

Accessing the Alabama Coast

Accessing the Mississippi Coast

MASGC also funds research projects to learn more about working waterfronts in the region. In 2008, Auburn University completed a MASGC-funded survey of the working waterfront in Mobile County, Alabama.  An updated and expanded study is currently being conducted .

MASGC is actively involved in the National Working Waterfront Network, a nationwide network of businesses, industry associations, nonprofits, local governments and communities, state and federal agencies, universities, Sea Grant programs, and individuals dedicated to supporting, preserving, and enhancing our nation’s working waterfronts and waterways.