“I think that if you find yourself in the ocean, and you have to go, that you should not feel guilty about that,” said Dr. Rachel Silverstein, executive director of Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper. “The problem comes with concentration, and if there are too many people in one spot peeing in the ocean or sewage spills there can be big problems.”
“On two separate dives last week, Waterkeeper divers found and photographed sickly staghorn coral that had been transplanted from the channel to a nearby artificial reef a year ago for protection. The photos show tagged colonies now coated with sediment and dead or dying.”
“Coming off successful legal action protecting our clean-water economy, Rachel Silverstein and the upstart environmental group Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper look to the future.”
“This settlement is a win for the environment and for local taxpayers, who are still on the hook for the Army Corps of Engineers’ mess. Our reefs and bay are ecological and aesthetic jewels, critical to our clean water economy and local culture. It’s a shame, and shameful, that we had to sue the federal government to get it to follow federal law.”
“Silverstein said that even bringing the Corps to the bargaining table was a victory.
“I’m proud and impressed that a tiny organization like us or the other plaintiffs can call on the Army Corps of Engineers, this behemoth of bureaucracy, and they have to appear down here and be held accountable,” she said, adding that the agreement was “an amazing outcome.”
Nonetheless, the NOAA report is “a very big deal,” says Rachel Silverstein, executive director of Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, another environmental group against the dredge.
“This is confirmation of what we’ve been saying all along,” she says. “It’s bittersweet for us because it confirms that our reefs have really been devastated because of the project. That’s not easy to hear but hopefully it does spur the Corps to action to actually do something to help the corals before it’s too late.”
In the meantime, a lawsuit threatened by the Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper environmental group and captain Dan Kipnis still looms. The group’s attorney, Jim Porter, said Wednesday they are keeping an eye on talks.
“We want give DEP and [NOAA] and the Corps every chance to get this worked out,” he said. “But if they’re unable to do so, then we’re prepared to go forward.”
“Our goal is not to stop the dredging but to ensure that the environment is protected and that everyone follows the rules set out when the project was started, and that’s not happening,” said Rachel Silverstein, executive director of Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper.
“So far, it seems the agencies are focused on trying to remedy the damage that’s been caused rather than prevent future damage,” Silverstein said.
Environmentalists said on Thursday they are prepared to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after researchers found dredging to deepen the port of Miami is burying coral and could destroy the surrounding marine ecosystem for years to come.
“All we’re asking for is that they follow state and federal law and they’re simply not doing that,” said Rachel Silverstein, executive director of the Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, a local environmental advocacy group.