Water Quality Issues

Water Quality Issues

CCA Florida strongly opposes the Corp of Engineers release of nutrient filled water from Lake Okeechobee that is poisoning the estuaries throughout the Caloosahatchee, St. Lucie and Indian River Lagoon systems. It is beyond question that these discharges cause devastating impact to the coastal marine life so critical to all of our well-being. The untold impact on the health and welfare of the estuaries and the people and economies surrounding these vital waterways cannot be sustained.  We applaud Governor Scott’s letter to the Secretary of the Army (copied here) requesting alternate routing of the discharges and support the actions he recommends.

Read more: CCA Florida strongly opposes the Corp of Engineers release of nutrient filled water

A light, southwest breeze and clear, dark blue skies signaled the start of another beautiful day in Vero Beach.  Leaving Riverside Park and rounding Dritenbas Point, the Hewes Redfisher 18 was pointed south and quickly planed out on the calm waters of the Indian River Lagoon.  Dolphins, manatees, pelicans, common terns and leaping mullet welcomed me as I began my day on the water with Captain Paul Dritenbas to observe firsthand some of his habitat restoration projects.  It quickly became abundantly clear why Paul was chosen as CCA’s Habitat Hero as we detoured from our destinations several times to pick up trash from the water. 
Over the years hundreds of CCA chapter members have volunteered countless hours helping with various habitat projects and helping acquire the funding for these projects.   Our members clearly recognize that without this ongoing effort, both our habitat and our fisheries would suffer greatly.  Because of this, CCA will begin regularly recognizing in SeaWatch some of the people that have gone above and beyond to help protect and restore our fragile coastal resources.  Captain Paul Dritenbas is one of those individuals, who for years has been tirelessly helping protect and restore Vero Beach’s fragile marine environment.  So much so that his first habitat project took almost 2 ½ years just to get permitted!  There was no reimbursement for the time that he spent and there was never any expectation of getting reimbursed.  Paul does it because of his love and passion for the environment and for the underprivileged youth in the Vero Beach area.

Read more: The Habitat Horizon: HABITAT HERO

For more than a decade, CCA Florida and hundreds of local CCA chapter members have contributed thousands of volunteer hours and acquired funding to help restore Florida's fragile marine habitat.  Volunteers have contributed to offshore and nearshore reef development, oyster bar restoration, shoreline stabilization, and planted literally hundreds of acres of saltmarsh, seagrass beds and mangroves.  Many of these projects were partially or wholly funded through foundation grants acquired by CCA Florida, CCA’s Building Conservation Trust Fund, and from donations by local CCA chapters and generous individual members.

Because of the importance of habitat and water quality to our fisheries, CCA Florida continues to substantially increase its role in the area of Florida habitat restoration and water quality.  The organization’s commitment is apparent with recent hiring of Frank Gidus, CCA’s new Director of Habitat and Environmental Restoration, as well as several new habitat projects.  As shown on CCA Florida’s statewide habitat map, CCA has been busy working on habitat projects around the state.  Take a look at the projects listed below, along with the email address for the CCA volunteer that is coordinating the project, and send that volunteer a note if you would like to get involved.  You can also contact Frank Gidus if you have an idea for a habitat project or concerns about environmental issues impacting Florida fisheries at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Read more: The Habitat Horizon – CCA Florida Habitat Restoration Project Updates

Andrew “Red” Harris was a lifelong Jupiter, Florida resident and, like so many other South Florida kids, grew up on the water with his family.  By the time he was a young man, Andrew had become an accomplished diver and fisherman, and developed a profound respect for the ocean and Florida’s marine resources.  A good athlete growing up, Andrew made the Palm Beach Post All Area teams in basketball and golf.  Not many kids could claim either one of these achievements, much less both in the same year.  After later graduating from Florida State University with a degree in Risk Management and Insurance, Andrew began his career in the insurance industry in Palm Beach County, and became an expert on the Affordable Care Act.

Sadly, Andrew’s life was cut far too short in June of 2014, when he was killed by a boat while snorkeling in the Jupiter inlet.  In honor of Andrew’s life, his family started the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation, whose mission is to create artificial reefs in Northern Palm Beach County, specifically at depths appropriate for divers and fishermen, some in depths shallow enough for snorkelers, and others in deeper water which will attract pelagic species and prized bottom fish.  The reefs should also prove to be prime habitat for multiple bait species.  Andrew’s parents, Scott and Martha Harris, spearheaded the effort to raise funds for the foundation, and ended up partnering with various organizations like CCA Florida, government agencies, and several others.

Read more: Andrew Harris Reef Comes To Life

Florida voters sent a strong message to the Florida Legislature last November by voting to approve Amendment 1 by a resounding 75 to 25 percent margin.  The amendment received approximately 4.2 million affirmative votes.  As a refresher, Amendment 1, otherwise known as the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, requires Florida’s legislature to use 33 percent of all net documentary tax revenues from real estate transactions (known as “doc stamps”) over the next two decades for the purchase, restoration, improvement, and management of conservation lands in the state.

Amendment 1 required a supermajority of at least 60 percent to pass, as is mandated by Section 5 of Article XI in the Florida Constitution.  Importantly, the amendment’s adoption did not increase taxes or tax rates.  Rather, it will redirect tax revenues from a specific source, for a specific purpose, over a specific amount of time.  One third of tax revenues from doc stamps from fiscal 2015-2016 are estimated to be approximately $650 million. This number is forecast to roughly double by the 20th year of its authority, to about $1.2 billion annually, bringing the estimated cumulative authority of the amendment to about $10 billion.

Read more: Amendment 1 Approved By Florida Voters

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