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State Facts

Miles of Coast: 359

Coastal Population (2000): 370,702

Lead Coastal Management Agency: Department of Marine Resources

Approval Date: 1980

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Ocean and Coastal Management in Mississippi

Mississippi's Coastal Program

The Mississippi Coastal Program, approved by NOAA in 1980, is comprised of a network of agencies with authority in the coastal zone. The Department of Marine Resources (DMR), through the Office of Coastal Ecology, serves as the lead agency. DMR is governed by a Commission on Marine Resources appointed by the governor. The primary authority guiding the Coastal Program is the Coastal Wetlands Protection Act, which includes a wetlands plan designating the allowable use of the state's tidal wetlands. The Mississippi coastal zone includes the three coastal counties as well as all adjacent coastal waters and the barrier islands of the coast.

Photo of a Mississippi shrimp boat out in the gulf.

The shrimping industry has been an important part of Mississippi's coastal development.

The Coastal Wetlands Protection Act establishes the policy of preserving coastal wetlands in their natural state, except where an alteration of a specific coastal wetland serves a higher public interest. The Coastal Program implements this policy largely through two key components: The Wetlands Permitting Program coordinates the permitting of wetland uses within the state's coastal zone among the permitting authorities (DMR, Department of Environmental Quality, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers) and is also responsible for reviewing proposed projects for federal consistency. The Coastal Preserves Program strives to effectively preserve, conserve, restore, and manage Mississippi's coastal ecosystems. The Coastal Program is also responsible for the state's Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program.

Mississippi's National Estuarine Research Reserve

The Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, an 18,400-acre natural area, is located in Jackson County between Pascagoula and the Alabama State line. The reserve was designated in 1999 and the lead management agency is the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. The Reserve encompasses coastal bay, expansive saltwater marshes, maritime pine forest, pine savanna, and pitcher plant bogs.

As part of the Grand Bay Savannah Conservation Partnership, the Grand Bay Reserve is participating in a prescribed burn management program for the East Mississippi Sound Region. This project is widely supported by local and state government agencies as well as the oil and gas industry with facilities in adjacent fire-dependent woodlands. The Reserve also offers coastal decision workshops designed for lawmakers, regulators, and others who make decisions that affect coastal resources.  

Program Highlights

Public Access Map

Public Access Inventory

Gulf of Mexico Alliance


Mississippi Coastal Program — The Department of Marine Resources website provides information about the Coastal Program's permitting and Coastal preserves activities.

Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve — The website provides information on the reserve’s research, education, and the coastal training program and recreational opportunities.

Mississippi Comprehensive Resource Management Plan — This website provides information about the plan and its programs, which are designed to build the capacity of state and local governments to manage and protect coastal wetlands and marine resources in Mississippi.

Marine Protected Areas — Search for marine protected areas in Mississippi.

Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology — This program brief describes investments in technology development and research projects for the state of Mississippi.

Mississippi Coastal Nonpoint Program Conditional Approval Document — The Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program encourages better coordination between state coastal zone managers and water quality experts to reduce polluted runoff in the coastal zone.

Mississippi Coastal Program Evaluation (2010) — The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of federally approved state coastal management programs.

Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Evaluation (2008) — The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of estuarine research reserves.

Mississippi Coastal Zone Enhancement Program Assessment and Strategy (2011-2016) — Every five years, the Coastal Zone Management Act encourages states and territories to conduct self-evaluations of their coastal management programs to assess significant changes in the state’s coastal resources and management practices, identify critical needs, and prioritize areas for enhancement under the Coastal Zone Enhancement Program.

Contact Information for Mississippi’s Programs

Mississippi Office of Coastal Ecology
Department of Marine Resources
1141 Bayview Avenue, Suite 101
Biloxi, MS 39530
(228) 374-5000

Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
6005 Bayou Heron Road
Moss Point, MS 39562
(228) 475-7047