The Alabama Aquatic Biodiversity Center (AABC) was honored with a Special Recognition Award during the 74th annual meeting of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA).
AABC is the nation’s largest state nongame recovery program. Its mission is to promote the conservation and restoration of rare freshwater species in Alabama waters and, in turn, restore cleaner water in the state’s waterways.
“Many species of mollusks, like the spiny river snail, are either extinct or missing from state waters,” SEAFWA President Paul Johansen said. “While most of the public may be unaware of the importance of such species, the AABC works tirelessly to restore them and ensure clean water for generations to come.”
Alabama has the greatest number of freshwater species of mollusks and fish in the U.S. However, over the past 80 years, more than 67 species have become extinct, and more than 54 species have been listed as threatened or endangered. AABC targets Mobile River Basin species, the most endangered groups in the state.
The AABC is near Marion in rural Perry County and has five full-time employees. The complex is on 36 acres near the Cahaba River and adjacent to the Marion State Fish Hatchery. Since 2005, the program has been supervised by Paul Johnson, former director of the Tennessee Aquarium Research Institute.
“Aquatic habitat and species recovery go hand in hand with Alabama’s water quality,” said Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “The work that Dr. Paul Johnson and his staff at the AABC are doing is helping to improve the quality of life for all Alabamians. We are very proud of their efforts.”
Learn more about the AABC at www.outdooralabama.com/research/aquatic-biodiversity-center.
The SEAFWA’s special recognition awards are bestowed upon people, groups or programs who, in the directors’ opinions, have served the association and made outstanding contributions toward wildlife and fisheries conservation, outdoor recreational engagement and the natural resources professional community.
SEAFWA members are the state agencies with primary responsibility for management and protection of the fish and wildlife resources in 15 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Member states are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.