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FWC’s update on Florida Bay highlights partnerships, restoration efforts

At its July meeting in Stuart, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), National Park Service and South Florida Water Management District discussed Florida Bay.

Florida Bay is a unique, shallow estuary heavily influenced by water flow from the Everglades. It is an integral part of the south Florida ecosystem that serves as a nursery habitat for economically important species and provides boating, fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities. The total value of ecosystem services for the area is estimated at $15 billion annually and it generates $438 million from recreational fishing.

Based on challenges facing the area, such as seagrass and sponge die-offs and harmful algal blooms, the FWC and partners have critical research, monitoring and restoration efforts underway.

Addressing the salinity of Florida Bay through the quantity, timing and distribution of fresh water remains a priority objective for Everglades restoration.

“I want to thank our partners for the important work they’re doing on this,” said FWC Chairman Robert Spottswood. “At times this has seemed like an overwhelming task, but it is all coming together. With the support of Governor DeSantis, we are making exciting progress with the complex issues of waterflow into Florida Bay.”

“Florida Bay is a very important part of Everglades National Park. It’s essential we continue working together to deliver the right amount of fresh water to ensure the long-term health of the bay and the world-class fishery it supports,” said Pedro M. Ramos, Superintendent of Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks.

“The South Florida Water Management District is proud to work in tandem with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to follow Gov. DeSantis’ directive and do more for Florida’s environment now,” said South Florida Water Management District Executive Director Drew Bartlett. “We already work closely together with FWC on a comprehensive ecological and water-quality monitoring plan to evaluate Florida Bay, and the District is committed to getting more water into Everglades National Park to help both the park and Florida Bay.”