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 was first on the list, where the shipping channel bisects a once-thriving coral reef and threatened staghorn corals and their critical habitat. Since construction began in November 2013, our reefs have been smothered by sediment from the dredging. Despite mounting recorded violations, the Army Corps failed to stop the impacts or its contractors, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, accountable for the damage.
In response, MWK, along with three other co-plaintiffs, filed a citizen suit in October 2014 to enforce legally-mandated protections for these imperiled corals and their habitat through the Endangered Species Act. We have already catalyzed the Army Corps to pay over $400,000 for the rescue of over 200 colonies of threatened staghorn coral to coral nursery at University of Miami. The dredging of the Port of Miami was completed in August 2015. Staghorn corals rescued in October 2014 as a result of our legal action are now being returned to the reef to grow and thrive in safety. Despite our successes, thousands of corals remain in the impacted area, and the damage resulting from the violations have still not been fixed. We are continuing our advocacy in both the legal and scientific realms to achieve proper restoration for Miami’s damaged reefs. Furthermore, the Army Corps recently approved Ft. Lauderdale’s Port Everglades, 30 miles north and bisecting the Florida reef tract, for dredging. We are expanding our efforts to organize Port Everglades’ community to prevent the damage we have seen in Miami from occurring again.
Here is some coverage of our work in the New York Times and National Geographic.
This is still an ongoing issue for MWK, and please check our website for updates and contact us for more information.