There is a storm brewing in Key West. But this is no Hurricane or tropical storm.
The proposed idea to dredge and widen the Key West Harbor to allow Mega Cruise ships to dock. A group of concerned group of guides -The Lower Keys Guides Association – has taken a strong stance against this proposed idea and is leading the fight to educate the public and convince politicians that dredging in Key West’s National Marine Sanctuary is not worth the potential environmental (and financial) impact.
“We stand adamantly opposed to this idea! Such a dredging project would negatively impact the health of the area’s ecosystem in ways that cannot be anticipated. This project could devastate our fishery; one that has yet to fully recover from the last such event in 2004. The area to be dredged is located in one of Key West’s prime tarpon staging areas off Ft Zachary Taylor.
As tarpon fishing communities in Texas and Homosassa have learned, you can negatively affect the fishery to such a degree that the tarpon no longer frequent the area. We believe that dredging Key West Harbor could very well be just such an event and the repercussions could be permanent and devastating.” – The Lower Keys Guides Association
Here are some facts about the how much money is actually tied into the Sport fishing industry in Florida
- $7.5 Billion generated each year
- 80,000 jobs in the sport fishing industry
- $125 Billion Associated impact (hotels, restaurants, etc.) from sport fishing
The Keysnews.com has a great article outlining the process for approval
Read the article here
What can you do to help?
The Lower Keys Guides Association http://lkga.org/LowerKeysGuidesAssociation/Lower_Keys_Guides_Association.html has a webpage with current information and they are leading an email campaign.
Here is what they are asking supports to do
***Urgent Mail/Email Campaign:****
The following is a letter that lays out our position on the Harbor Dredging issue. This issue will be presented to the Key West City Commission on October 16th 2012 at 6:00pm. If you believe strongly, as we do, that the natural integrity of the harbor is more valuable than the prospect of “Mega” Cruise ships calling port in Key West, we ask that you copy this letter and send it to the City Commissioners and the Mayor. It is vitally important that the Commissioners understand that many anglers from around the world care deeply about our fishery and how important it is to our community that it remain world-class.
Mayor of Key West – Honorable Craig Cates
City Commissioners – Jimmy Weekly, Mark Rossi, Billy Wardlow, Tony Yaniz, Teri Johnston & Clayton Lopez
3216 Flagler Avenue
Key West, Florida 33040
RE: Proposed Study – Widening of Cut B ****copy this to your email subject field***
Dear Mayor and Commissioners,
It has come to my attention that commercial interests have made a proposal to the city to fund a study regarding the widening of the Key West Main Ship Channel (Cut B), at no cost to the City of Key West, to allow larger cruise ships to enter the harbor.
As an avid fisherman I regularly visit Key West and the lower keys to partake in the world-class fishery there. I am greatly concerned that the continued disturbance of the silt in the main ship channel by cruise ships coming in and out of Key West is leading to continued degradation of the nearby flats and the reef. To widen the main ship channel for even larger ships to come to Key West will only increase the threat. The disturbance of existing sea bottom in the actual widening of the channel would be an environmental disaster from which the surrounding area may not ever recover.
I urge you and the city to not proceed with support for this study. It would appear from the last time this topic was brought up as a poorly worded referendum that a vast majority of local residents do not want the main ship channel widened. The surrounding fishery and pristine marine environment provide a much greater economic benefit to Key West than any cruise ship traffic can ever bring. And if the widening were to impact nearby waters for an extended period of time or permanently alter the ecosystem, it is reasonable to expect that the number of visiting fishermen and other water sports participants would drop dramatically. There is simply no fundamental risk/reward equation that makes sense–except to the commercial interests pushing this proposal.
The interests of residents and visitors who enjoy the Marine Sanctuary and the Key West and Great White Heron refuges and the non-local cruise ship industry may always be at odds. The Key West City Commission should take into account the fact that Key West for all practical purposes sits within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Therefore, the commission should take into account the area’s historical uses, along with the original purpose and goals surrounding the establishment of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and National Wildlife Refuges when making these decisions. These are local and national treasures and should be preserved for current and future generations.
As Theodore Roosevelt said: “Surely our people do not understand even yet the rich heritage that is theirs…Our people should see to it that they [sic. Wild places] are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever with their majestic beauty unmarred.”…… Theodore Roosevelt.
At its beginnings, the system of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in the US was established so that generations of Americans could benefit from the restorative and cleansing effect of visiting wild places and seeing wild creatures in their natural habitat. Widening the Key West Ship channel is the greatest immediate threat to these places and to the enjoyment of the many thousands of tourists who visit Key West.
Here are the email addresses of all the City Officials:
Mayor Craig Cates: email@example.com
Jimmy Weekly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Rossi: email@example.com
Billy Wardlow: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tony Yaniz: email@example.com
Teri Johnson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Clayton Lopez: email@example.com