Angling community applauds legislation to deflate algal blooms
HR 6645 would reauthorize programs to assess and control damaging hypoxia events
Recreational anglers are lending their support to a bill that proposes to advance the scientific understanding of harmful algal blooms and improve methods to detect, monitor and assess the damage associated with such events. Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) has introduced HR 6645, the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA) of 2018, which would establish the Greater Everglades Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Assessment, and facilitate development of an action plan to address, mitigate and control future harmful blooms in this environmentally sensitive area.
“What is happening off the coast of Florida this year can only be described as a tragedy and has been devastating to our marine ecosystem,” said Brian Gorski, executive director of CCA Florida. “CCA Florida is pleased to support this legislation from Rep. Mast because we need to use every available tool at our disposal to control and prevent these kinds of ecological disasters in the future if at all possible.”
No more than two years after passage, HR 6645 calls for an inter-agency task force to develop and submit to Congress a plan for reducing, mitigating and controlling harmful algal blooms and hypoxia in the Greater Everglades Region and provide biennial progress reports on all activities undertaken to achieve the objectives of the plan. The bill also increases the annual reauthorization of appropriation for the National Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Program to $22 million.
“The only shortcoming to any plan that makes more resources available todayto address this problem is that Congress and the state didn’t do it 20 years ago,” said Gorski. “The water situation in Florida is a catastrophe and it has made it crystal clear how closely tied our economy and quality of life is to our marine environment. We are grateful to Rep. Mast for his efforts to get a handle on Florida’s water quality issues and we urge Congress to pass this legislation as quickly as possible.”
The full letter is below.
September 4, 2018
The Honorable Brian Mast
U.S. House of Representatives
2182 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative Mast:
On behalf of the millions of Americans who enjoy recreational fishing and boating and the tens of thousands of businesses they support, we are writing to express our strong support for H.R. 6645, the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (HABHRCA) of 2018.
Your legislation, as well as H.R. 4417, the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2017, is critically important to advancing the scientific understanding and ability to detect, monitor, assess, and predict harmful algal blooms (HABs).As we’ve recently witnessed in South Florida, the Great Lakes and many other parts of the country, HABs have a severe impact on fish populations, fisheries habitats and even human health. Not only are entire ecosystems suffering as a result, but the economic losses continue to mount as local businesses that depend on access to healthy aquatic systems are negatively impacted as well.
Building upon action plans required in the previous reauthorization of HABHRCA, this bill recognizes the ongoing frequency and severity of HABs in South Florida by establishing the Greater Everglades Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Assessment and the subsequent development of an action plan to address, mitigate and control future HABs in this environmentally important area.
In addition to South Florida, these events gravely impact freshwater habitats in rivers and lakes throughout the country, especially in the Great Lakes region. Thus, we are pleased to see your bill reauthorize the National Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Program and the federal interagency working group, which would allow the group to continue building upon its success of developing and implementing action plans to address harmful algal blooms.
Once again, thank you for your efforts on this important issue, and we appreciate your continued leadership in support of clean water and healthy fisheries. We look forward to working with you to ensure H.R. 6645’s passage.
American Sportfishing Association
Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S)
Center for Sportfishing Policy
Coastal Conservation Association
Coastal Conservation Association Florida
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Florida Guides Association
Future Angler Foundation
Great Lakes Fishery Commission
Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation
International Game Fish Association
Jersey Coast Anglers Association
Kenai River Sportfishing Association
Marine Retailers Association of the Americas
National Association of Charterboat Operators (NACO) National Marine Manufacturers Association
National Professional Anglers Association
Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association Recreational Fishing Alliance
Snook and Gamefish Foundation
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
150-Foot Steel Vessel Deployed in Volusia County
New Reef the Result of Several Partnerships
VOLUSIA COUNTY, Florida – (June 27, 2018) –On Saturday, June 23, 2018, the Lady Philomena, a 150-foot steel vessel was deployed in 80 feet of water at artificial reef site 12, roughly nine miles offshore the Ponce de Leon Inlet.
This project was made possible through the funding partnerships of Volusia County, Coastal Conservation Association Florida (CCA Florida) and CCA’s National Habitat Program, the Building Conservation Trust (BCT). BCT received a grant from the FishAmerica Foundation, the conservation funding arm of the American Sportfishing Association, and the Brunswick Public Foundation, which helped ensure the project’s success.
“As the FishAmerica Foundation celebrates 35 years of teaming with local groups to enhance fisheries and water quality, there could be no better effort to exemplify the accomplishments that can be made than participating in the deployment of the Lady Philomena in conjunction with CCA Florida and BCT,” remarked Andrew Loftus, grant manager for the FishAmerica Foundation. “The benefits of this project to the environment, economy and sport fishing will grow each year as the reef ecosystem develops.”
“Meaningful partnerships are the reason we are able to do great marine habitat work in Florida and throughout the United States,” said John Carlson, chairman of the Building Conservation Trust. “The dedication of like-minded organizations demonstrates the power of coming together to benefit marine life and the local community.”
The 90-foot Tug Everglades was also placed alongside the Lady Philomena during last week’s deployment. The vessels are intact and upright on the seabed in very close proximity to one another and will make excellent fishing and diving sites.
The Lady Philomena was forfeited to the U.S. Customs in Miami, after having been seized with contraband. The vessel was deployed in an established artificial reef system consisting of clean concrete culverts, structures and large concrete bridge components. The deployment of the Lady Philomena will enhance this underwater community, attracting marine life such as fish, shrimp and crabs. Artificial reefs also boost local economies through an increase in sport fishing, tourism and patronage in small businesses. The Volusia County artificial reef system is visited by an estimated 50,000 vessels annually and experiences high visitation by recreational anglers and divers.
The reef started generating local excitement last fall, when Volusia County hosted a two-day viewing party that enabled visitors the opportunity to tour the ship.
“The deployment of the Lady Philomena has been widely anticipated, and it is so gratifying to have seen the project’s completion, from start to finish,” said Brian Gorski, executive director of CCA Florida. “Projects like this really bring nearby residents together and educate the public of the value of marine habitat conservation. We are so grateful for our many strong partnerships, as well as the outpouring of support from the local community.”