Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve
Apalachicola Bay is one of the most productive estuarine systems in the Northern Hemisphere. The Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve protects the region’s biological diversity, as well as the economic value of the natural resources and pristine conditions.
Between 60 to 85 percent of the local population make their living directly from the fishing industry, most of which is done in Reserve waters. Seafood landings from the Apalachicola Reserve are worth $14-16 million dockside annually. At the consumer level, this represents a $70-$80 million industry. Understandably, research projects that target commercial fisheries management and the food chain are a high priority in the Apalachicola Reserve.
In addition to its water quality monitoring program, the reserve has engaged in extensive benthic habitat mapping in Apalachicola Bay and has a highly sophisticated geographic information systems (GIS), which is used to educate coastal managers and visiting researchers about the area and its ecology. Other educational offerings include ongoing guest lectures for the community, and coastal management workshops for environmental professionals. The reserve's K-12 educational activities are divided between classroom and on-site programs.