By Karen Fisk, Charlotte County Democrats Legislative Liaison.
The Florida Senate and House are considering two bills (SB 198/HB 349) that would further destroy seagrass in our waterways for the sake of more profitable land development. Seagrass is critical for the health of our waterways and wildlife, including our beloved manatees, for whom seagrass is their main food source. Last year was the deadliest year for manatees in Florida. They depend on seagrass for food. Seagrasses are a valuable ecosystem.
Seagrass “replenishment” programs have a high rate of failure. Trying to grow seagrass in new locations, while it seems like an easy fix, will not work! These bills, SB 198 and HB 349, permit seagrass “replenishment” in lieu of protecting existing seagrass and would therefore, foster the destruction of existing seagrass.
Seagrass is an irreplaceable resource. These bills would cause increased destruction of seagrass and waterways, including accelerating the decline of our manatee population. We cannot afford to allow our waterways and seagrasses to further deteriorate. Florida’s natural areas, wildlife and waterways are a big part of what makes our state special.
Instead of furthering irreparable disturbances of our waterways, seagrass and wildlife, Florida legislators should work to stop the destruction of seagrass altogether. Please write and call Senator Joe Gruters and Representative Michael Grant, and urge them to vote NO on SB 198 and HB 349.
Rep. Michael Grant (R) phone is 850-717-5075. Email is: [email protected]
Senator Joe Gruters (R) phone is (850) 487-5023. Email is [email protected]
Image Credits: A manatee and calf in the Crystal River in Florida in November. Statewide, more than 1,000 of the mammals have died in 2021, a record. Credit…Jason Gulley/NY Times