Coastal Alabama is known for its white-sand beaches and seafood industry. It boasts a dynamic system of dunes, marshes, beaches, bays, rivers, oyster reefs and barrier islands, with the Mobile Bay watershed at its heart. Coastal Alabama is home to a stunning array of wildlife and marine life, including more than 350 species of birds and more than 335 species of freshwater and saltwater fish.
Mobile Bay provides critical nursery grounds for a multitude of commercially and recreationally important fish and shellfish species. The state’s thriving seafood industry supports more than 17,000 jobs, and recreational and commercial fishing combined generate $1 billion annually in the state.
In addition to its seafood industry, coastal Alabama’s varied lands and waters support a prosperous tourism sector. Coastal tourism generates an estimated $4.6 billion annually, which accounts for more than a third of all travel dollars spent in the state. Nearly 1,400 wildlife tourism-related businesses reside in Alabama’s two coastal counties with more than 2.3 million wildlife tourists visiting the state each year.
In total, Alabama is certain to receive more than $1.3 billion dollars that can be used for restoration as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Roughly a fifth of these funds have already been awarded or are in the process of being committed to projects that include building living shorelines, expanding the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge and completing a full suite of 31 watershed plans for Mobile Bay. The remaining money will become available over the next decade and a half.