Sustaining Alabama Fishery Resources: A Risk-Based Integrated Environmental, Economic, and Social Resource Management Decision Framework

Author(s): Stovall, M.

The natural systems that make-up Mobile Bay, its watershed, and adjacent marine waters serve as critical natural infrastructure supporting water supply, transportation, power generation, recreation, commercial fishing, agriculture, forestry, and a wide variety of other valued uses for the people in the watershed. Development activities and multiple uses have placed signification stresses on the ecosystem and the sustainable use of its aquatic resources. These stresses have impacted the unique marine and freshwater biodiversity of this aquatic system.

This paper presents results of Phase 1 of a NOAA funded assessment of the freshwater and marine fisheries of the Mobile Bay watershed, the related aquatic system and the stresses placed on this system by both anthropologic and natural conditions The project is a collaborative effort among government, corporate, and private stakeholders to build the resource management decision support tools needed to assure a sustainable fisheries and coastal seafood industry for Mobile Bay and its watershed, while balancing statewide environmental, economic, and social demands.

Existing system conditions were initially characterized through review of available literature and agency documents. Two collaborative multi-stakeholder workshops were held in 2009 in order to gain their perspective on the most immediate threats to a sustainable Mobile Bay system. Challenges associated with multi-stakeholder coordination, resource allocation among potentially competing uses, and public education of how human activities potentially impact system health were ranked as higher threats for sustainable system management than more traditional environmental perturbations such as non-point source pollution or aging infrastructure.

Results from Phase 1 studies have identified tentative indicator species, sources of stresses, model boundary conditions and other major system components for Phase 2 activities to develop a preliminary decision support system, which will link riparian, stream, estuary, and near-shore marine conditions responses to various human use activities via selected indicator species monitoring. The long-term project outcome is to design and develop new tools to model and evaluate social and environmental factors that influence management of a sustainable fishery, support man-made infrastructure investment decisions, and provide a common language for expressing goals, processes, and concerns affecting responsible stewardship of Alabama’s fisheries resources.

Recent developments incorporating decision impacts of near-shore drilling will also be discussed.

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Technical Sessions

Session I Sedimentation
Session II Weather/Climate
Session III Coastal Resources
Session IV Surface Water Management
Session V Wetlands
Session VI Education
Session VII Management/Planning
Session VIII Wetlands
Session IX Delta Groundwater
Session X Nutrients
Session XI Delta Water Resources
Session XII Ports

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