We are thrilled to announce that we were awarded a Rapid Ocean Conservation (ROC) Grant from the Waitt Foundation. These grants provide quick-turnaround funding to address emergent conservation issues. This type of funding is rare and critically important for conservation because these grants can be used to address sudden crises, such as algal blooms, oil spills, or coral bleaching. When environmental issues need an immediate response, waiting through a typical grant cycle be too slow.
We were awarded an ROC grant to support our ongoing advocacy to protect coral reefs from damage caused by dredging. Here’s what’s happened so far: In a race to expand U.S. ports to accommodate larger, next-generation shipping vessels, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is targeting ports along the eastern seaboard for expansion and dredging. The Port of Miami is first on the list, where the shipping channel bisects a once-thriving coral reef and critical habitat for threatened staghorn corals. Since construction began in November 2013, our reefs have been smothered by sediment from the dredging. Despite mounting recorded violations, enforcement agencies failed to act. In response, MWK, along with three other co-plaintiffs, filed a citizen suit to enforce legal protections for these imperiled corals through the Endangered Species Act. We have made progress; our actions catalyzed a $400,000 emergency coral rescue by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Despite our successes, another six months of dredging still threaten Biscayne Bay and nearby coral reefs.
Next up for expansion is nearby Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, surrounded by vast reef ecosystems. We also plan to organize the Port Everglades community to prevent the damage we’ve seen in Miami from occurring again. These dredging projects could determine the future of corals in South Florida for decades.
We now need rapid funding for the next stages of our legal advocacy and for continued monitoring of corals, where we hope to collect data necessary to spur enforcement agencies to action. We will use funding from the Waitt Foundation to monitor corals near the Port of Miami, continue our legal advocacy, and initiate our Port Everglades community outreach work.
We sincerely thank the Waitt Foundation for their vision in providing unique ROC grants and for their support, both in terms of funding and enhancing awareness about this critically important environmental issue.
Make sure to follow both of us on social media:
@waittfoundation on instagram
@miamiwaterkeeper on instagram