“The Corps’ report misleadingly and conveniently blames the disease and warm temperatures for the destruction of our corals, but all of the available evidence, including evidence from every other federal, state, and local government agency involved, shows that the Corps’ dredging that was smothering the reefs long before the disease even began,” said Miami Waterkeeper executive director Rachel Silverstein.
The Corps is required to monitor the area for at least another year to determine whether permanent damage occurred that would need to be addressed.
The PortMiami expansion is nearly complete, making Miami the first port in the State of Florida capable of accepting the supersized ships that will soon sail through the expanded Panama Canal. But we do not believe that the PortMiami dredging project has been the unmitigated success its proponents claim it to be. The evidence is clear that the dredging operation, which began in November 2013, has deposited an asphyxiating blanket of sediment atop our coral reef: the same reefs that protect Miami Beach’s imperiled coastline from storm surges; support our teeming fish populations; and help sustain our booming tourist industry. Many Americans do not know that South Florida is home to the only coral reef tract in the continental United States: as unique as the sequoias of California or the geysers of Wyoming, and no less deserving of our protection.
“The corps claims it’s a ‘learning agency,’ but all plans so far show that the corps is not intending to improve its practices in Port Everglades after destroying over 200 acres of reef in Miami, and with this letter we show our intent to push for better protection for Fort Lauderdale’s reefs,” said the executive director of Waterkeeper, Rachel Silverstein.
“The Corps is conducting this project like a bull in an environmental china shop.”
“The Corps has been dragging their feet and not providing the information,” said Rachel Silverstein, a marine biologist and executive director of Miami Waterkeeper.
The more time that passes without an accurate survey, she said, the harder it will be to save struggling coral or determine just how much damage has been done. In June, Silverstein surveyed the area and found surrounding reefs dusted with silt. Fisheries Service divers found a similar moonscape, with sediment about a half inch to four inches deep.
“Everything is being eroded out there and it’s hard to tell what has died,” she said. “That information is critical to holding the Corps accountable.”
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.