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Reel Time: My witness statement

I’ve been a resident of the Suncoast for 40 years. For 35 years of those years, I ran a contracting business and have seen firsthand the effects of harmful algae blooms on the environment and the economy. I have never been more concerned than I am today and fear we may be near a point of no return.

I believe that there is a real possibility that our coastal waters may be in the process of converting from a seagrass-based system with clean, vibrant waters to an algae-based system that supports very little life and creates milky green water.

This is an economic and environmental disaster in the making. We only have to look as far as The Indian River Lagoon on Florida’s east coast as a cautionary tale. Once one of the most vibrant ecosystems on Earth, manatees there are dying of starvation due to a lack of the seagrasses they graze on.

I am no scientist, but I have been fishing and recreating on Sarasota Bay, Tampa Bay and Anna Maria Sound since I moved here in 1980, and can honestly say I fear for the future of our waters and the generations of future residents who will inherit the legacy of our inaction. I truly believe that this rises to the level of a “moral obligation.”  I would encourage you to face this challenge. Let’s all work together to see that future generations have some of the same opportunities that we’ve had.

What can you do? Contact your elected officials (local and state) and demand action, write letters, attend commission meetings, join with groups like Suncoast Waterkeeper and Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, don’t fertilize during the rainy season, keep yard clippings from our waterways and encourage your neighbors and friends to speak out.

The sad truth is that if we are silent, we will reap the unfortunate rewards. I’m reminded of a quote by the American Cultural Anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The truth is that if we don’t, nobody will, and our children will inherit a world no one would wish for them. We can do this but only by acting, now, before it’s too late.

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