We have hired a federal lobbying team to pursue 15 million dollars in federal funding for a model project to restore up to 650 acres of seagrass and clams, spread out among our three National Estuaries–Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay and Charlotte Harbor. We are the only place in the country with three National Estuaries on our border. These estuaries are in large part the nursery for the Gulf of Mexico. We all know the pressure the largest Gulf in the world is under these days, due to excessive nutrients flowing in from everything east of the Continental Divide, as well as the nutrient flows coming from multiple point sources like inadequate waste water systems, storm water runoff, increased development, agriculture & manicured lawns. And, now we can add the disastrous breach of the Piney Point gypsum stack that has dumped 220 million gallons of nitrogen and phosphorus laden water into Tampa Bay.
Quite frankly, Mother Nature can no longer keep up. We must engage with multiple strategies to address these critical issues. Nothing less than our precious coastal environment and quality of life, as well as the economy of our state, is at stake. More frequent and more toxic harmful algal blooms, like blue-green algae, lyngbya algae and red tide events, can cause a domino effect that none of us want to experience.
Scientific studies show the benefits that clams and seagrass have in cleaning water and promoting healthy estuaries that can help support our Gulf. This five year project will be science based and will be a proving ground that will show what works and doesn’t work throughout our three National Estuaries for promoting clean water and mitigating excessive nutrients while creating jobs and promoting our sustainable aquaculture industry. Many people aren’t aware that we have a million acres of shellfish approved waters in the state of Florida and only 1% are leased. The more jobs we create the more water we will clean and the more productive our critical nurseries for the Gulf of Mexico will become. The science we gather will prove the efficacy of bivalve and seagrass restoration.
Our “All Clams on Deck” initiative to promote coastal resiliency will also be working on a parallel track to ask the Governor to certify bivalves for mitigation credits. Currently two of the major strategies for mitigation credits are mangroves and seagrass. There is every reason, scientifically and otherwise, to believe that bivalves should be included.
We can create high quality, well-paying jobs that reflect Florida’s great heritage of sustainable seafood, and working waterfronts, while promoting and providing critical marine habitat that protects our precious coastal environment.
Our “All Clams on Deck” team is developing a request to be presented to Florida Legislators requesting a bill be passed certifying bivalves for mitigation credits.