Monthly Archives: March 2010

Governor Approves Offshore Natural Gas Terminal

A new liquid natural gas (LNG) receiving port to be developed off the coast of Tampa Bay promises to provide a new source of clean-burning fuel for Florida. Governor Charlie Crist announced his approval of the project in September; construction is expected to begin in 2011 with the new terminal coming online in 2013.

Port Dolphin Energy, a subsidiary of Norwegian-based international shipping company, plans to construct the deepwater port 28 miles off the coast of Manatee County. LNG tankers arriving at the port would connect to a natural gas pipeline running from the offshore terminal to Port Manatee and then inland for four miles before connecting with the state’s natural gas pipeline grid. The LNG would be returned to a gaseous state aboard the specially designed shuttle and regasification vessels (SRV’s) before being fed into the pipeline to serve customers throughout west central Florida.

The company estimates that the project will generate a direct economic impact to Manatee County and Port Manatee of $125 million over the next 20 years.

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What You Can Do To Protect Our Waters and Fisheries

Buy an environmental/wildlife license tag: When you buy or renew your Tampa Bay Estuary license plate you are supporting the restoration of Tampa Bay. The Tampa Bay Estuary license tag costs $27 the first year and $17 to renew after that. Hook one today at your local tax collector’s office!

Revenues for all specialty tags have declined in the past year. If you are considering a specialty tag for your auto, boat trailer or RV, please buy one that helps preserve our environment. Visit www.buyaplate.com to learn about Florida’s 18 environmental/wildlife plates, including the Tampa Bay Estuary tag.

Do you ever catch red snapper? You can help scientists evaluate the effectiveness of current fishing regulations by providing information on the red snappers you catch. You can get a data form or more information on this project by emailing FishStats@myfwc.com.

Restoring Sea Grasses in Tampa Bay

Water Quality is the Key

While many questions remain about the best way to restore seagrass beds in Tampa Bay, scientists all agree that maintaining water quality is the single most important concern.

A major step toward that goal was achieved recently when the Tampa Bay Estuary Program’s Nitrogen Management Consortium signed off on a landmark agreement to limit nitrogen pollution in Tampa Bay. The agreement, still pending final approval by regulators and local authorities, spells out how much nitrogen can enter Tampa Bay through 2012.

To achieve consensus, most participants had to give up some previously permitted, but unused capacity. For example, communities that hold permits to discharge more treated wastewater than they currently are must “hold the line” at current levels unless they can prove they have lowered nitrogen pollution elsewhere. Participating private sector partners must meet the same restrictions.

Nitrogen reductions already have resulted in more than 6,000 acres of new seagrasses, with the bay now boasting more seagrass than has been seen since the benchmark 1050’s. Nearly all of those restored areas were achieved through natural recolonization, although ongoing restoration initiatives in some parts of the bay are showing promising results.

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The Value of Recreational Boating in Florida

A four-year study of Florida’s boating access facilities and their economic significance was recently completed for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWC). This study is the largest single effort to evaluate recreational boating in Florida completed to date and includes several components.

Facilities Inventory: The project includes a facilities inventory of coastal and inland recreational boating access facilities, including ramps, marinas, dockominiums, private clubs, dry storage facilities, hotels/restaurants, commercial establishments and large residential development with recreational boat dockage. This data was collected to use in economic analysis of recreational boating, but it will be available via an online guide so that boaters can access information on any boating facility in the state, queried by county or region.

Economic Significance of Recreational Boating in Florida: The economic analysis estimated expenditures made by recreational boaters to determine the stream of dollars through local communities, the region and the state. The estimates were based on online surveys completed by boaters from around the state. The report shows the state’s boaters spent $3.38 billion on boating trips in 2007 and $5.15 billion in watercraft expenses, which together supported 97,000 jobs.

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The Incredible, Edible Jellyfish

Seems hard to believe, but several species of jellyfish are considered a gastronomic delicacy in oriental markets. In Japan alone, several 10s of millions of dollars worth of processed (dried) jellyfish are imported annually. I recently read a technical article on Chinese efforts to increase jellyfish production by releasing 414 million juvenile jellyfish. Back in the early 1990s there was even an effort to establish a fishery for jellyfish in the northern Gulf of Mexico. I am not sure, but those of us who frequent sushi restaurants; we may have been eating jellyfish in some of the salad preparations.

Kids Cup Redfish Tracking Project

Over the past decade, many fishing tournaments have gone to a catch and release format. In particular, redfish catch and release tournaments have become very popular. However, little information was available on how many of these fish survived and where the fish dispersed to after release at the weigh-in location.

To address this issue, Charlotte County Sea Grant Extension Agent, Betty Staugler, initiated the Kids Cup Redfish Tracking Project. During these tournaments, released fish are fitted with externally anchored dart tags and others are implanted with battery operated acoustic tags. The anchored dart tags are inserted near the dorsal fin and are easy to see when a fish is caught.

Six of the 134 dart tagged fish caught during the 2007 and 2008 tournaments have been recaptured. Several of these fish had widely dispersed after release. One fish recaptured after 514 days grew 63mm (about 2.5 inches).

Data from the acoustically tagged redfish comes from redfish when they swim near stationary listening units deployed in Charlotte Harbor. The acoustic tags transmit a signal into the water at random 30 to 90 second intervals. The signal can be received, decoded and stored inside one of the listening units if the tagged fish swims within 400 meters of the unit. Battery life on the acoustic tags is about two years.

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Discover Egmont Key, It’s in your Backyard

Egmont LighthouseEgmont Key, the historic island guarding the entrance to Tampa Bay has endured the Civil War, multiple Seminole wars and the Spanish American War. It is a beautiful island and local residents and tourists should definitely put it on their “list of things to do.”

For many years, the island was only accessible to those folks with a boat. However, now shuttle boats leave Fort DeSoto Park from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm; with the last boat returning from Egmont a 4:30 pm. For ferry information call 727-867-6569.

For more information, visit www.egmontkey.info or call 727-893-2627.

Thank You Cortez Fishing Festival Volunteers

Unbelievable the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival was blessed with beautiful weather during what has been one of the coldest most miserable Florida winters in the last four decades. At least 20,000 people turned out to celebrate the working waterfront heritage of the historic fishing village of Cortez. The festival is not possible without the help of all the dedicated volunteers who make it possible. Thank you!

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