Water-related industries in Alabama provided 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, process and offer amenities. 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 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. Identified as the first element of that agenda is the need for an education/outreach/marketing program.
The initiative will be the basis for a long-term, multifaceted education and outreach effort and should result in increased awareness of the Coalition and of the variety and importance of working waterfronts in Alabama.