On Tuesday, January 9 2018, one hundred Florida Bay fishing guides called an emergency meeting to discuss the EAA Reservoir. Just as the guides gathered at The Islander Resort in Islamorada, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) released its report to the Legislature on Senate Bill 10. The guides who attended the meeting were leading the charge to pass Senate Bill 10. Many of the guides traveled to Tallahassee multiple times in 2017 to meet with their elected officials. The guides engaged in an open discussion with representatives from Captains for Clean Water, Herman Lucerne Memorial Foundation, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, Bullsugar, Florida Keys Guides Association, Everglades Foundation, Everglades Trust and several other organizations.
The captains’ concern for the SFWMD’s reservoir concepts have resonated throughout the fishing community in Florida. The reservoir footprint is too small and does not have enough treatment capacity to provide optimal benefits to Florida Bay, or the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers.
Florida Bay Captains’ Letter to Governor Scott:
“Dear Governor Scott,
As fishing guides, the problems facing Florida Bay affect us on a daily basis. We see the destruction and have to cope with the seagrass die offs and algal blooms as we struggle to make a living. The fight to save Florida Bay has been going on for decades. Last year, many of us took time off, travelled to Tallahassee, made calls and wrote letters to our elected officials to urge the passage of Senate Bill 10. The South Florida Water Management District is faltering on the opportunity to make the most out of this project, failing to give the EAA Reservoir a large enough footprint to provide optimal benefits to Florida Bay, as well as the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers. According to a 2009 study by Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, fishing within the Everglades provides a $1.2 billion annual economic impact to the state of Florida, and the future of this industry depends on the proper implementation of this critical CERP project.
If properly constructed, the EAA Reservoir could provide a significant source of clean freshwater to the Everglades and Florida Bay. This would help mitigate future hypersaline events which have plagued Florida Bay with seagrass die offs and algal blooms.
As our elected officials, we ask you to hold the South Florida Water Management District accountable to the promises made to us in Senate Bill 10- finding “the optimal configuration of the EAA Reservoir project”. Optimal configuration means optimal benefits to our estuaries which are the lifeblood of our state’s economy.”