Protecting Marine and Coastal Habitats

Sarasota Bay has more ”hard” coastline than most areas along the Gulf coast. Hard shoreline includes seawalls, bulkheads and other vertical surfaces meant to resist erosion. Part of the hardening process involves removing the mangroves that, ironically, both prevent erosion and provide critical nursery habitat for the young of many economically important marine species – the very fish that many people come here to catch. A hard shoreline provides practically no habitat value.

Amazingly, developers are still looking for ways to build right up to the water’s edge, and Waterkeeper is there to keep them honest. The ecosystem benefits of the mangrove forests are widely understood, and not to be taken lightly. We will oppose efforts to remove mangroves and wetlands and support restoration, remediation and protection of shorelines that provide the ecological functions needed to sustain a healthy estuary.

Often, shoreline developers are not content with their seawalls, lawns and driveways. They want docks, and dredged channels for the boats that use them. We certainly have no problems with boats! We are sailors and powerboaters ourselves. But all too often the channels proposed for dredging run through – and permanently destroy – seagrass beds, which are the foundation habitat of the coastal marine ecosystem. The Suncoast is still, in many ways, recovering from the massive dredge-and-fill development projects of the fifties, sixties and seventies, which all but killed the region’s bays. The seagrass is still making a comeback, and we will oppose their destruction or removal. We will also scrutinize mitigation proposals with a very skeptical eye. We generally oppose wetlands mitigation proposals, because they generally don’t work!

Visit this page for information on one such project, Longbar Pointe.

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