An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Seminole County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Legislature approves bill creating new Aquatic Preserve

TALLAHASSEE – On Wednesday, the Florida Legislature approved a bill that would provide protections to the largest seagrass bed in the Gulf of Mexico.

House Bill 1061 by Republican Rep. Ralph Massullo of Lecanto passed overwhelmingly to create the first aquatic preserve in 32 years, including the coastlines of Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties.

The news comes with excitement for Capt. William Toney, a fourth-generation fishing guide in Citrus County.

"This aquatic preserve will protect us and hopefully, sustain our way of living and keep our rivers safe clean and everything, from if there is any issues with pollution," he states. "It's being proactive, is what it is."

Seagrass helps stabilize the sea floor, filters pollution and serves as habitat for fish species.

Some local governments did express concern about added bureaucracy for the state protections, but the measure received unanimous support in the Senate and is now on the governor's desk.

According to The Pew Charitable Trusts, commercially fished seagrass-dependent species and eco-tourism in the region generate around $600 million a year for the local economy, and support more than 10,000 jobs.