FIU And Mayor Suarez Give Big Wins To Pragmatic Environmentalists

Ethan Suquet/Guest Columnist

In Biscayne Bay, residents have spent the last couple of weeks dealing with daunting challenges in their local environment because of an unprecedented “fish kill,” in which countless fish have washed up on their boat ramps and next to their sea walls, giving off a terrible odor that residents have had to endure. The cause of this mess is relatively straightforward: low dissolved oxygen in the water caused by higher temperatures and lower water quality. 

According to Rachel Silverstein, the Executive Director of the Waterkeeper Alliance, contributing factors include “Stormwater, sewage leaks, septic tanks, and fertilizer.” All of these factors kill seagrass in the bay area, which, in turn, kills the fish that have been popping up on the shores in recent days. 

In the days since, we have seen both a public-private partnership emerge between FIU and the Frost Science Museum to address this issue alongside responsible government action by Miami’s Mayor Suarez. 

To help get at the root of this issue in the short term, the team of scientists from Frost, alongside the team from FIU’s College of Arts, Science, and Education decided to directly address the problems related to the low levels of dissolved oxygen. Through an airline installation into the water, the two teams are bringing much-needed oxygen into the water, which the marine life needs for short-term survival. Although after this necessary effort, the question remains: if the water quality continues to deteriorate won’t that just continue to lead to lower levels of dissolved oxygen and kill the fish later on anyways? 

This is where the responsible targeted investments that Mayor Suarez is promoting come into play, with only $270,000 out of a city budget that exceeds $1 billion, Mayor Suarez is pushing for infrastructure improvements that will make lasting improvements in local water quality and prevent future “fish kill” events in Biscayne Bay. With the $270,000 in targeted investment, we will see the installation of 1,000 inlet filters and pollution control devices which according to Mayor Suarez will help filter sediments, pesticides and plastics.

These moves have been praised by the Waterkeeper Alliance and local environmental advocates for good reason. They provide a model for pragmatic environmentalism that ought to be emulated with other challenges our planet faces. The environmental movement should not be about promoting broad governmental takeovers, but rather about both public and private institutions taking responsible actions to protect the world around us without overly burdening our taxpayers or hurting the economy. 

Mayor Suarez, the Frost Science Museum and FIU’s College of Arts, Science and Education have all been fantastic examples of what this approach ought to look like with their leadership on the Biscayne Bay Fish Kill issue and they should be commended for their efforts.

Ethan Suquet is a sophomore political science major at Florida International University. He is also the Regional Director for Southeastern Florida at the American Conservation Coalition.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

Featured image from FIU Flickr. 

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