Institute partnership strives to protect Biscayne Bay

The Institute of Environment has renewed its partnership with the Biscayne Bay Marine Health Summit Coalition in support of a new effort: the implementation of a “Post Summit Plan of Action” focused on advocacy, communication and education.

This partnership will advance Biscayne Bay restoration and preservation initiatives, bolstering stakeholder and community efforts to protect the landmark waterway to address threats. The inaugural Biscayne Bay Marine Health Summit in 2017 brought together over 250 advocates and experts to discuss the state of the waterway.

More needs to be done. In August of 2019, a grand jury convened by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office warned that Biscayne Bay was at a “tipping point” and without corrective action, the bay would suffer from irreversible damage. This led to the Action Summit, which rallied high-profile state and community leaders. 

The institute’s new partnership with the coalition’s steering committee intends to support advocacy and education efforts to advance bay health. Luiz Rodrigues, steering committee member and founder of the 2017 and 2019 summits, will be leading partnership activities under the direction of institute director, Todd Crowl.

The steering committee also includes Tiffany Troxler, institute researcher, and Steve Sauls, former vice president of governmental relations at FIU. Sauls was instrumental in facilitating the university’s hosting of the two summits.

“We hope to continue advancing solutions for research and technology in order to create a long-term and sustainable plan with the financial and political support needed to restore and maintain the health of the bay for the long run,” said Rodrigues.

Together, the groups will advocate amongst local, state and federal partners for the betterment of the bay’s water quality through restoration and preservation efforts. They also plan to coordinate educational workshops to address the bay’s health and have pledged to keep summit attendees informed about Biscayne Bay health-related initiatives.

The Institute of Environment’s researchers have worked on water quality research for the last 25 years. Now, they are using research buoys positioned in the bay to collect water contamination data that can be used to identify where potential algal blooms may crop up and where chemical pollution might become an issue. This research is being supported by the NSF-funded CREST Center for Aquatic Chemistry and Environment, which is part of the institute.

Institute scientists are also monitoring the health of the bay’s ecosystem, including seagrass and microalgae communities, which have experienced recent die-offs. These parts of the waterway capture carbon, which reduces greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Biscayne Bay is a critical element of our South Florida ecosystem, community and culture. Consider supporting this year’s Biscayne Bay Health project. Learn more by visiting the summit’s website

Biscayne Bay Marine Health Summit Coalition steering committee members include Luiz Rodrigues, Albert Gomez, Camila Quaresma, Dave Doebler, Emilio Lopez, Irela Bagué, Patrick Shearer, Scott Strippling, Steve Sauls and Tiffany Troxler.