|Significance of St. Joseph Bay Aquatic Preserve
The Florida Panhandle is one of the nation's six biological hotspots that has many rare species
only found in small areas.
The Gulf of Mexico is ranked as the number one region in the nation for seafood
harvest in poundage and in monetary value. In 2002, the
commercial fish landings of the northern Gulf region totaled
over 1.7 billion pounds accounting for nearly $705 million in
Habitat and Species
St. Joseph Bay is not influenced by the inflow of freshwater, and tends to be clearer with sandier
sediments. The bay is an ideal habitat for seagrass. Productivity in the region can be attributed to the
saltmarsh and seagrasses that serve as nursery and foraging grounds for commercial and recreational fish
and invertebrates, sea turtles, scallops and birds.
Class II Waterbody
St. Joseph Bay is classified as a Class II Waterbody in Rule 62-302.400 of the Florida
Administrative Code. Class II waters are those coastal waters where shellfish harvesting occurs. Class
II waters are more stringent concerning bacteriological quality than any other class because uncooked
shellfish can concentrate pathogens in quantities significantly higher than the surrounding waters.
Outstanding Florida Waters
St. Joseph Bay Aquatic Preserve is an Outstanding Florida Water (OFW). OFWs are designated due to their
high quality, recreational or ecological significance, or their location within state or federally owned
lands. This designation is intended to preserve the ambient water quality and does not allow any
St. Joseph Bay is designated as a Gulf of Mexico Ecological Management Site . GEMS are geographic areas
that have special ecological significance to the continued protection of fish, wildlife, and other natural
resources or that represent unique habitat. The GEMS program is an initiative of the EPA Gulf of Mexico
Program to provide a framework for protection of ecologically important Gulf habitats.
April 06, 2015
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 235
Tallahassee, Florida 32399
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