BTT's Fix Our Water Initiative

 Healthy Habitats = Healthy Fisheries

Objective
FixOurWater SocialTo engage recreational anglers and the fishing industry in efforts to expedite revision of Florida’s water management practices.

Goal
To immediately begin restoration of the Florida Everglades by fast-tracking the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), purchasing land to store and clean freshwater, and implement policies that restore healthy freshwater flows into all coastal Florida estuaries.

 


Click here for more info and to contact your elected representatives.

 

Bahamas Flats Economic Impact Report

Key Largo, FL – March 25, 2010 – The Bahamas is known as one of the world’s premier flats fishing destinations. Anglers travel from around the globe to hunt the crystal clear shallows of The Bahamas seeking the elusive bonefish, known as the “Grey Ghost of the Flats.”  Despite this area’s popularity among anglers, a clear understanding of bonefish biology, the importance of the flats fishing culture to Bahamians, and the economic value of the Bahamian flats fishery has remained as elusive as the “Grey Ghost” itself.

Read more: Bahamas Flats Economic Impact Report

Fix Our Water Initiative: Healthy Habitats = Healthy Fisheries

 

BTT's Fix Our Water Initiative
Healthy Habitats = Healthy Fisheries

 

Objective
FixOurWater SocialTo engage recreational anglers and the fishing industry in efforts to expedite revision of Florida’s water management practices.

Goal
To immediately begin restoration of the Florida Everglades by fast-tracking the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), purchasing land to store and clean freshwater, and implement policies that restore healthy freshwater flows into all coastal Florida estuaries.

Background
Healthy recreational fisheries require healthy habitats. Healthy estuary habitats require healthy, natural freshwater flows. It’s that simple.

Current water management practices in Florida are gravely threatening Florida’s recreational fisheries.

Changes to freshwater flows into estuaries causes significant negative impacts to the ecosystem, including killing seagrasses, oysters, fishes, and other organisms. These changes negatively impact gamefish – there are fewer prey items, less habitat, and the poor water quality can impact fish health.

The recreational fisheries of Florida are extremely economically important with an annual state wide economic impact of $9.3 billion. The saltwater portion of Florida's recreational fishery contributes $7.6 billion per year.

  • The flats fishery of the Florida Keys has an annual economic impact of $465 million.
  • The annual economic impact of the recreational fishery of the Everglades region is nearly $1 billion.
  • 
The respective economic impact of the tarpon fisheries of the Indian River Lagoon and Charlotte Harbor exceed $19 million and $110 million. 


These and other coastal fisheries are being negatively impacted by altered freshwater flows.

Florida’s healthy freshwater flows need to be restored!

The Challenge
The epicenter of the assault on recreational fisheries is in South Florida. At present, many billions of gallons of polluted freshwater are being discharged every day from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River and the St. Lucie River and Estuary. These areas are unfishable. Algal blooms are widespread.

In contrast, so little freshwater is reaching Florida Bay that the waters of Florida Bay are hypersaline (too salty), resulting in a large-scale die-off of seagrass, an extensive algae bloom, and numerous fish kills.

Natural Florida Everglades flows sent the right amount of freshwater to Florida Bay via sheet flow, and much less water to the east and west coasts, which supported healthy habitats and healthy fisheries.

Now altered flows and water management send insufficient freshwater to Florida Bay and too much water is released to the northern estuaries.

These changes in freshwater flow result in the algae blooms, seagrass die-offs, fish kills, and other environmental impacts that are ongoing.

The last time water alterations were this severe, in the early 1990s, Florida Bay suffered catastrophic algae blooms and seagrass die-off, which had severe negative impacts on the recreational fishery that are still felt today. Now, we fear a repeat of the catastrophe of the 1990s is under way.

Florida Bay is the “Canary in the Coal Mine” for Florida’s recreational fisheries, and rings alarms bells for the entire region, from the Caloosahatchee River and Charlotte Harbor to the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.

The massive freshwater discharges into the Caloosahatchee River and St. Lucie River that are ongoing now, that occurred two years ago, and have occurred many times previously have destroyed much of the restoration work that has been conducted in these areas, wasting millions of dollars.

Health warnings have been posted for the St. Lucie Estuary due to high bacteria levels.

Although the Florida Everglades are the epicenter, a similar story is playing out elsewhere.

The Indian River Lagoon is experiencing a massive brown tide that threatens to kill the lagoon’s remaining seagrass. A similar algae bloom event in 2011 killed the majority of the lagoon’s seagrass.

Altered freshwater flows into mangrove creeks in Charlotte Harbor impact juvenile snook. Creeks with altered flows have fewer prey items for juvenile snook to eat.

Altered freshwater flows have decimated the oyster reefs in the Apalachicola area.

What needs to happen? Appropriate freshwater flows need to be restored!

Florida Everglades
    •    The plans to make this happen are in place – known as the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project or CERP – they just haven’t been adequately funded or implemented as promised. This plan needs to be funded and implemented immediately. This will supply Florida Bay with sufficient freshwater and stop the drastic discharges of water into other areas. 

    •    The Central Everglades Planning Project needs to be fast-tracked. 

    •    The state needs to purchase the land already identified for creating reservoirs to 
store and help clean the freshwater.

Florida’s Estuaries
    •    The state needs to implement strategies to reduce the amount of nutrients in freshwater entering the estuaries. 

    •    Natural freshwater flows (the timing, amount, locations) need to be restored. 

    •    Land needs to be purchased to create filter marshes to filter nutrients from the 
freshwater entering estuaries. 

    •    Once freshwater flows are addressed, habitat restoration must occur. 
It’s not going to be an easy or short-term effort, but if action isn’t taken now, the future of these habitats and fisheries is not bright.

What You Can Do:
    •    Attend County Commission meetings to let them know the recreational fisheries are important to your area, and that the fisheries are in decline 

    •    Contact your State and Federal representatives and senators to demand action 

    •    Contact the Governor of Florida 


Demand Action Today:
    •    Demand that the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan is implemented immediately 

    •    Demand that freshwater flows into the Caloosahatchee River and St. Lucie River are greatly reduced, and match ecologically defined maximum and minimum flows 

    •    Demand that water storage south of Lake Okeechobee is created now, not delayed until 2022 

    •    Demand that the freshwater flows into Indian River Lagoon, Charlotte Harbor, and other estuaries are returned to more natural patterns 

    •    Demand that the freshwater flowing into the estuaries is clean


Contact your local, state, and federal elected representatives and tell them to fast-track CERP, purchase the land to create reservoirs to store and clean freshwater, and implement strategies to reduce nutrients and contaminants in the freshwater entering the estuaries. Stay tuned to btt.org, facebook, and instagram for updates. 



Ready to Take Action? Call and Email NOW!

Contact Governor Rick Scott:
http://www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/email-the-governor/ (850) 488-7146

Contact Florida’s U.S. Senators:
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (FL) https://www.billnelson.senate.gov/contact-bill
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (FL) http://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-senator-rubio?p=Contact

Find and Contact Your U.S. Representatives: http://www.house.gov/representatives/#state_fl

Find and Contact Your State Senators and Representatives:
https://www.flsenate.gov/senators/find http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/myrepresentative.aspx

 

BTT's Initiatives

BTT has a number of large-scale initiatives, and many individual projects within those initiatives.

Florida Keys Initiative

Project Permit

Bahamas Initiative

Juvenile Tarpon Habitat Initiative

Project Belize

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