Recreational fishing and boating groups are appealing to Congress to increase federal funding for Everglades restoration projects, hoping to reduce “catastrophic algae blooms and seagrass die-offs that have dramatically impacted not only the environment, but the sportfishing and boating industries in South Florida.”
The letter asked for funding for restoration projects that have been authorized by Congress, including the Central Everglades Planning Project, Tamiami Trail bridging and Herbert Hoover Dike repairs.
Dated June 23, The letter highlighted the need to restore the historic southerly flow of clean water from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay, stating that it’s “critical to ensure public safety, maintain proper salinity in the Bay and to reduce the necessity for, and the frequency of, releases to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers.”
Last year, algae blooms grew to 200 square miles on Lake Okeechobee, and migrated to rivers in the dam releases.
The toxic cyanobacteria bloom began as a slime green, turned bright blue, then brown and eventually transmuted into a mass of black rot as the stench hanging over the water at Central Marine ripened from the smell of rotting garbage to putrid carcasses to feces.
Companies told Trade Only Today during that time that business had come to a screeching halt.
Now 19 groups, including the American Sportfishing Association, BoatUS, the Center for Sportfishing Policy, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, Keep Florida Fishing, the Marine Industries Association of Florida, the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Recreational Fishing Alliance, are urging Congress to protect the “unique ecosystem.”
“While the state of Florida has appropriated its share of the 50/50 cost share agreement for Everglades restoration funding, the federal government is approximately $1 billion behind the state in its financial commitment, slowing the completion of these important projects,” said Kellie Ralston, ASA director Florida fishery policy, in a statement.
“We urge Congress to provide increased funding for Everglades restoration so that future generations will also be able to enjoy Florida’s treasured natural resources,” Ralston said.
“Large releases from Lake Okeechobee like those in 2016 threaten the health of our fisheries, making Everglades restoration a top priority for the recreational fishing and boating industries,” said Gary Jennings of Keep Florida Fishing. “Immediate action is needed at the federal level to protect our waters and help maintain Florida’s role as the fishing capital of the world.”