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The Partnership

The mission of the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership (APNEP) is to identify, protect, and restore the significant resources of the Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system. APNEP pursues this mission with guidance and support from its overarching Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP), the Management Conference (advisory groups) and regional partners. APNEP was among the first of 28 National Estuary Programs established by the Clean Water Act in the late 1980's. The Partnership is a cooperative effort currently hosted by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and works closely with the Commonwealth of Virginia. APNEP's program area extends across both states, from its headwaters in the Virginia mountains and North Carolina Piedmont, through a broad coastal plain and out to the string of barrier islands bordering the sounds.

APNEP's staff works closely with diverse stakeholder committees whose members include citizens, local business leaders, environmental organizations, and local, state, and federal agencies. APNEP engages citizens and organizations through its committees to ensure a coordinated approach to managing the Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system. By facilitating communication and collaboration among different organizations throughout the region, APNEP seeks to leverage its resources and those of its partners to accomplish more together than any individual organization could alone. This, combined with our ecosystem-based management approach, positions APNEP to identify and fill regional gaps and to address pressing issues confronting the region.

As authorized in N.C. Governor's Executive Order #26 (2017), APNEP staff is advised by a Management Conference composed of a Leadership Council, Science and Technical Advisory Committee, and an Implementation Advisory Committee. APNEP's guiding plan is its 2012-2022 Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP), which was created in a stakeholder-driven process with an ecosystem-based management approach.

View our 2012-2022 Management Plan

APNEP's Approach

APNEP incorporates an ecosystem-based management approach to achieving its mission.  More specifically, this approach includes consideration of both human and natural systems, an adaptive management framework, and meaningful engagement with the public to find environmental management and policy solutions.  These themes are explored below.

A systems view

APNEP's systems approach considers the hundreds of human and natural elements in the Albemarle-Pamlico ecosystem as well the relationships between them. APNEP's management plan is based on a model of these relationships, ensuring that management actions directly target improvements in ecosystem services and are linked to explicit conservation goals.

Managing adaptively

Adaptive management requires setting environmental and management goals, then routinely evaluating progress toward achieving them. Adaptive management will ensure that management actions are routinely assessed, then continued, improved, or discontinued based on environmental evidence and community feedback. APNEP is committed to developing and applying information to support adaptive management practices, both internally and with its partners.

Watershed boundaries

APNEP is active throughout the Albemarle-Pamlico watershed, with management efforts directed from river headwaters to the sea. For this reason, APNEP works in both North Carolina and Virginia, as water from both states ultimately drains into the sounds.  By working within ecological rather than political boundaries, APNEP ensures that issues are addressed in an integrated and holistic way.

Engaging our partners

APNEP has taken a partnership approach to achieve its mission. Protection of the Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine system is an enormous undertaking, and the resources directly allocated to APNEP are limited. APNEP seeks to overcome this hurdle by leveraging partnerships among federal, state and local government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academia, and the public to make significant improvements for the sounds. As a result of its broad reach, APNEP is well positioned to fill gaps and identify synergies among its partners.

Partners and Resources

APNEP's goals for our region cannot be achieved alone. The hard work and dedication of a myriad of local, state, and interstate organizations in our region contributes hugely to the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem. Below we list some of these groups, many of which APNEP has partnered with in the past on specific projects or initiatives.

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North Carolina

  • Beaufort County
  • Bertie County
  • Camden County
  • Carteret County
  • Chowan County
  • Town of Columbia
  • Craven County
  • Currituck County
  • Dare County
  • Durham County
  • City of Durham
  • Edgecombe County
  • Elizabeth City
  • Franklin County
  • Gates County
  • City of Goldsboro
  • Granville County
  • Greene County
  • City of Greenville
  • Halifax County
  • City of Halifax
  • Hertford County
  • Hyde County
  • Johnston County
  • Jones County
  • City of Kinston 
  • Lenoir County
  • Town of Manteo
  • Martin County
  • Nash County
  • City of New Bern 
  • Northampton County
  • Orange County
  • Pamlico County
  • Pasquotank County
  • Perquimans County
  • Person County
  • Pitt County
  • Town of Plymouth
  • City of Raleigh
  • City of Rocky Mount 
  • Tyrrell County
  • Vance County
  • Wake County
  • Warren County
  • Washington County
  • City of Washington
  • Wayne County
  • Wilson County


  • Brunswick County
  • Charlotte County
  • City of Chesapeake
  • Dinwiddie County
  • Greensville County
  • Isle of Wight County
  • Lunenburg County
  • Mecklenburg County
  • Nottoway County
  • Petersburg County
  • Prince Edward County
  • Prince George County
  • Southampton County
  • City of Suffolk
  • Surry County
  • Sussex County
  • City of Virginia Beach

  • Appalachian State University
  • Duke University
  • East Carolina University
  • Elizabeth City State University
  • Environmental Educators of North Carolina
  • Estuary Live
  • North Carolina Office of Environmental Education
  • North Carolina State University
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of North Carolina at Wilmington
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

  • National Estuary Program
  • EPA Region 3
  • EPA Region 4
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • NOAA Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research
  • NOAA Coastal Services Center
  • North Carolina Sea Grant 
  • National Marine Protected Areas Center
  • National Estuarine Research Reserve System
  • NOAA Fisheries Service
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • United States Army Corps of Engineers
  • United States Department of Agriculture
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • United States Fish and Wildlife Service

  • Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences
  • Duke Marine Laboratory
  • UNCW Center for Marine Science
  • UNC Institute of Marine Sciences
  • NCSU Center for Marine Science and Technology
  • UNC Coastal Studies Institute
  • Albemarle Ecological Field Site

  • Core Sound Waterfowl Museum
  • Rocky Mount Children's Museum and Science Center
  • Fort Raleigh National Historic Site
  • Friends of Elizabeth II
  • North Carolina Maritime Museums
  • North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
  • Museum of the Albemarle
  • North Carolina Art Museum
  • North Carolina Estuarium
  • North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores
  • North Carolina Aquarium at Roanoke Island
  • North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher
  • Tryon Palace
  • Wright Brothers National Memorial

  • Association of National Estuary Programs
  • Audubon North Carolina
  • Back Bay Restoration Foundation (VA)
  • Blackwater-Nottoway Riverkeeper Program
  • Carolina Wetlands Association
  • Eno River Association
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Friends of State Parks (North Carolina)
  • National Parks Conservation Association
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • North Carolina Big Sweep
  • NC Catch
  • North Carolina Coastal Federation
  • North Carolina Coastal Land Trust
  • North Carolina Farm Bureau
  • North Carolina Sierra Club
  • Neuse River Foundation/Keepers
  • Sound Rivers (formerly Pamlico-Tar River Foundation)
  • Partnership for the Sounds
  • River Guardian Foundation
  • South Centre Corridors RC&D Council
  • Southern Environmental Law Center
  • Tar River Land Conservancy
  • The Conservation Fund
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Triangle Land Conservancy

  • Albemarle-Chowan Watershed Roundtable
  • Atlantic Coast Fish Habitat Partnership (ACFHP)
  • North Carolina Oyster Blueprint
  • North Carolina Source Water Collaborative
  • North Carolina Watershed Stewardship Network 
  • Saltwater Connections
  • South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative
  • Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership

North Carolina

  • North Carolina Division of Coastal Management
  • North Carolina Forest Service
  • North Carolina Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources
  • North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries
  • North Carolina Division of Parks And Recreation
  • North Carolina Division of Soil And Water Conservation
  • North Carolina Division of Water Resources
  • North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund
  • North Carolina Coastal Reserve Program
  • North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission
  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
  • North Carolina Division of Mitigation Services
  • North Carolina Environmental Management Commission
  • North Carolina Natural Heritage Program
  • North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
  • North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission
  • Office of Environmental Education And Public Affairs
  • Office Of Land and Water Stewardship
  • Office of the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality


  • Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
  • Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
  • Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
  • Virginia Division of Soil and Water Conservation
  • Virginia Marine Resources Commission
  • Virginia Natural Heritage Program
  • Virginia Office of the Secretary of Natural Resources
  • Virginia State Parks

  • Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe
  • Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe
  • Meherrin Indian Tribe
  • Nansemond Indian Tribal Association
  • Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia
  • Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation