Aquatic preserves are not real estate

Screenshot of SB1210 proposed bill from

Kailey Krantz | Staff Writer

Florida’s aquatic life is a cornerstone of its identity and is home to some of the world’s most diverse ecosystems. Stripping away a chunk of one of the state’s key aquatic preserves is disrespectful to the creatures living there and erases the efforts of those who strive to protect it.

Florida’s SB 1210 seeks to revise the boundaries of the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve, stating it will take back 225 out of the 13,000 acres of the preserve, including land from San Carlos Island, Mantazas Pass and Hurricane Bay. 

The Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve serves as the blueprint for the 42 aquatic preserves Florida has to offer. It is home to various types of species that are either state or federally threatened and endangered.

According to the proponents of the bill, it will “help fishermen rebuild their livelihoods after hurricane Ian,” said Senator Jonathan Martin.   

For the record, it isn’t trying to help hurricane victims as Martin and the bill’s supporters would like you to believe. It was proposed to help out a developer who wanted to create a private marina property. 

The marina project, sponsored by Bay Harbour Marina Village LLC, plans on dredging a substantial channel through a protected wildlife area that could damage vital habitats, such as a sandbar that is a well-known roosting spot for many avians. 

Martin pointed to the proposed portion of the preserve and called it “a correction to a tiny mapping mistake.” That ‘mapping mistake’ also happens to be part of a preserve that protects significant and vital species.

Creating a marina village out of a piece of the preserve would promote habitat damage and hurt the biological life that calls the preserve home. 

What’s even scummier about the bill is how it was presented in meetings. 

Martin tried passing the bill off as part of a ‘hurricane relief effort’. Using this as an alternative excuse is insulting to those who have lost their homes, their livelihoods and their families to hurricanes. 

FIU is studying marine life to restore coral reefs through underwater research in the Medina Aquarius Program. If the bill is passed, it would jeopardize the safety of the marine we’re studying and do further damage to these aquatic ecosystems. 

Aquatic preserves are places where students can go and study some of the wildlife that lives in Florida. Even if they weren’t there for a school project, they can still enjoy the beautiful scenery and turn it into a learning experience.

If an inch of a border is being moved, that means we’re losing water to protect. We’re losing a piece of an ecosystem that could be in desperate need of ecological attention, which could lead into a domino effect for the rest of the preserve.

It spits in the faces of students, professors and researchers who have studied Florida’s bays and beaches.

We are making strides to protect our marine life, but it’s now more vital than ever to protect the aquatic preserve and send a message to senators and real estate developers that these lands are not for sale.


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

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