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$17.5 million needed to restore seagrass and clams at 3 Bay Area estuaries
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$17.5 million needed to restore seagrass and clams at 3 Bay Area estuaries

Environmental program seeking $17.5 million to restore seagrass, clams in 3 Bay Area estuaries

Saturday saw the official launch of a new initiative to restore estuaries in the Bay Area. It’s known as ‘All Clams On Deck’ and it’s getting support from state lawmakers who were in Longboat Key Saturday to announce the new program.

Water quality is a top priority in Florida right now. Many of Florida’s seagrass has been killed by harmful algae blooms. Manatees are now finding it more difficult to find food, leading to their death. 

Water quality issues are what keep me awake at night. There are a large spectrum of things we need to do wastewater treatment facilities, what we put on our lawn, how we farm and how we ranch,” explained Ed Chiles, founder of ‘All Clams On Deck’.

According to data from Hillsborough Environmental Protection Commission (HEPC), seagrass in Tampa Bay decreased from approximately 40,000 acres in 2018 and to 34,000 acres in 2020.

Will Robinson, Florida State Representative stated that water quality is something Floridians have always had first because it is something they all agree on.

READ: ZooTampa releases manatees that have been rehabilitated from red tide toxicity into the Gulf of Mexico

Saturday, Rep. Robinson along with Florida State Senator Jim Boyd showed their support for the ‘All Clams on Deck’ initiative. Gulf Shellfish Institute created the program to restore 650 hectares of seagrass and shells in three major estuaries: Tampa Bay Bay, Sarasota Bay, and Charlotte Harbor.

Chiles explained that scientists will drive the program. They will evaluate the environmental response and implement planting efforts. With the hope of using the information to quantify large-scale water quality improvement,

“This is economic development. This is about sustainable seafood. Chiles stated, “This is about aquaculture to the table.”

READ: ’Pollution is pollution’: How to reduce amount of algae-thriving nutrients in Bay Area waterways

The program seeks $15 million in federal funds and $2.5million in state funding to fund restoration projects over the next three to five years.

“We’ve got to make sure that these coastal areas and resilient and that’s what ‘All Clams On Deck’ is all about,” Chiles said.

Chiles stated that he expects to receive a final answer about the funding within the next 90-days.

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