Marine debris is both ecologically and aesthetically undesirable in the aquatic preserve. In addition to posing a public safety hazard for visitors, debris may entangle or be ingested by wildlife. Pelicans and other species can be attached to monofilament line and hooks, and have great difficulty in disentangling themselves.
While much of the debris found in the aquatic preserve can originate many miles away, debris can also be generated locally due to carelessness or lack of awareness. Any effective effort to reduce debris in the aquatic preserve must combine active removal and prevention/awareness components. Several organizations and individuals have helped with the marine debris issue in Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve, and these groups should be encouraged to continue their efforts. As a management entity, Tampa Bay Aquatic Preserves (TBAP) works to fill gaps in management activities rather than duplicate the worthwhile efforts of others. TBAP is working to engage park managers and local landowners to ensure they are doing everything possible to reduce the contribution of debris from their sites.
TBAP will identify debris “hot spots,” where marine debris accumulates as a result of carelessness or lack of attention, or where physical attributes of the surrounding area concentrate debris in particular locations. If local entities are not able to target those areas, TBAP will mobilize volunteers to help with removal of the debris.
Much of this area is along shorelines managed as Cockroach Bay Preserve State Park. TBAP will assist with debris removal because of the direct impact on the aquatic preserve and encourage the Division of Recreation and Parks to continue with and/or expand their efforts. TBAP also can involve local and visiting student groups.
The second prong of this effort is to reduce local debris input at the sources. TBAP will seek improvements, particularly at access points, that will reduce the likelihood that debris will get into the aquatic preserve. This includes working with local resource managers to ensure that trash receptacles at access points are covered and emptied regularly to prevent discarded debris from entering the aquatic preserve, ensuring that monofilament receptacles are provided at access points, and using access point kiosks and other informational locations to raise awareness about marine debris and its effects on the aquatic preserve.
February 27, 2019 - 9:50am
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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.