Port Manatee seagrass mitigation successful
Port Manatee officials said today a six-year environmental mitigation project to restore seagrass beds impacted by port expansion has proven successful, even exceeding state criteria used to track and measure the project's progress.
Environmental mitigation is a key component of all port expansion projects, because federal regulations require ports to map out offsetting, or mitigating, environmental programs whenever a port expansion project impacts marine environment.
Port dredging work several years ago required the removal and transplanting of 5.33 acres of seagrass. Since the seagrass was transplanted in an approved mitigation location, the port has generated 25 acres of seagrass in locations approved by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
DEP has been monitoring Port Manatee's progress in restoring and protecting seagrass, and last week notified the port it had achieved 15.2 mitigation credits for the restoration work, surpassing the mandated score of 12.7 credits.
'The department is pleased that the necessary seagrass mitigation credits have been achieved and we look forward to our ongoing partnership with Port Manatee to restore, protect and conserve these vital seagrass resources,' said Michael Barnett, head of the DEP's Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems.
Port Manatee Executive Director David McDonald said the successful environmental mitigation is critical to not only recent port growth, but future projects.
'This is a milestone for Port Manatee and it validates the Manatee County Port Authority's commitment to the environment,' he said. 'As this port continues to grow and prosper in the years to come, we will continue to do our part to ensure the ecosystem surrounding the port is not only maintained, but thrives.'