The solution to improving water quality along the Suncoast depends on achieving two things:
Closing Piney Point, redirecting the polluted releases from Lake Okeechobee away from our rivers and improving local infrastructure like the Bee Ridge wastewater plant will help reduce the inflow of pollutants. Our Clams/seagrass program is the most cost-effective way to achieve the second objective of reducing the pollutants already in our waterways. This is because each clam can filter up to 10 gallons of seawater a day and they help expand the growth of much needed new seagrass.
Restoration of seagrass & clam populations in Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay and Charlotte Harbor
Provide the research & proof of concept needed to support the use of bi-valves as potential environmental mitigation strategies
Integrate environment and economic sustainability
A team of researchers and natural resource managers will identify restoration sites that have the highest likelihood for success while maximizing ecosystem benefits. A panel of marine scienttists and specialists will be integral to establishing, maintaining, and evaluating restoration efforts. Permits will be acquired from required entities, including the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Florida Fish Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCCFWC), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and US Coast Guard (USCG) to conduct restoration activities in pre-determined areas.
Seagrass and clam restoration areas will be monitored for a three year period to document the success of the plantings. A time zero and annual report will be generated from monitoring events. During each monitoring event, a biologist will measure density/cover and expansion rates of the seagrass restoration areas. The 10mm size clam populations, once planted, will be cover netted, a proven technique to reduce predation, with the nets being changed out 4-10 times per year for purposes of controlling biofouling and net mesh size adaptation.