2022 Highlights and 2023 Initiatives
Florida’s water quality continues to be one of CCA Florida’s highest advocacy priorities. CCA Florida’s Water Quality Subcommittee continues to work on and monitor several resource issues around the state. These include the following: South Florida water conditions, the reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, retention of water to the north of Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee River basin, Pine Island Sound, Tampa Bay, the St. John’s River basin, Indian River Lagoon, and Florida Bay.
CCA Florida continues to monitor all issues involving LOSOM and the ever-changing issues with Lake Okeechobee water levels. Florida has started projects on all sides of the lake to continue the progress of cleaning water before it enters the lake as well as when water leaves the lake. The completion of the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area will have a significant impact in reducing nutrient pollution in the St.Lucie Estuary.
CCA Florida recognizes the urgency in stopping the failing sewer infrastructures throughout Florida and the disposal of bio-solids. We applaud the efforts of the State in allocating $125 million from the Wastewater Grant Program for wastewater treatment improvements, including septic to sewer projects and projects to upgrade to advanced waste treatment. This is a critical situation and a plan needs to be implemented immediately for a long-term solution.
CCA Florida’s ongoing habitat restoration work highlighted below continues to have a positive impact on water quality, water clarity, and marine species around the state of Florida.
CCA Florida worked with the FWC to open a highly regulated Goliath Grouper season.
CCA Florida was invited to be with Governor DeSantis to announce the 57-day Gulf Red Snapper season.
CCA Florida worked with the FWC to create stricter regulations in Atlantic State Waters for Mahi. We are both working towards tighter regulations in Federal waters.
CCA Florida worked against the FWC proposal to increase the Redfish bag limit in the Big Bend to two fish and succeeded. We also helped to reduce the bag limit to one fish in the northeast and create a catch and release only in the IRL.
CCA Florida intervened in a lawsuit initiated by the commercial fishing industry that is attempting to roll back an important precedent affecting fishery allocations.
CCA Florida worked with FWC and the South Atlantic council to stop wide bottom closures off of Florida’s east coast. CCA Florida worked with other organizations to oppose the right whale slow speed zones.
CCA Florida and the Duke Energy Mariculture Center have restocked over 190,000 redfish, 50,000 trout and over 5,000 snook around the state of Florida.
CCA Florida successfully completed 12 habitat projects in 2022 including oyster reef restoration projects, oyster restoration studies, living shorelines, artificial reef deployments, and clam restoration projects.
CCA Florida and our National habitat program, the Building Conservation Trust, have contributed over $1.2 million since 2010 for habitat restoration projects around the state. These funds have been leveraged with our partners to create over $9 million in habitat restoration projects in Florida.
CCA Florida’s growing oyster recycling program now has several restaurants currently donating their oyster shells to the tune of over 1 ton of oysters per week. To date, over 100 tons of oyster shells have been collected by CCA volunteers and 60 tons have been returned to the waterfor restoration projects in Hernando, Manatee, Volusia, Charlotte and Collier Counties.
CCA Florida deployed 7 new artificial reefs in 2022 around the state of Florida while contributing over $140,000.
CCA Florida conducted 6 coastal cleanups around the state in 2022, and to date has removed over 75 tons of trash and marine debris along the coast.
R.Z. “Sandy” Safley Reef – On August 23, 2022, CCA Florida in partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife ConservationCommission (FWC), the Building Conservation Trust (BCT) and the Organization for Artificial Reefs (OAR) deployed 30 reef modules to create the R.Z. “Sandy” Safley Reef, a tribute to Safley’s commitment to protecting Florida’s marine habitat and the rights of recreational anglers. Six 15-foot-tall super structures weighing 18 tons each and 24, 8-foot- tall pyramids weighing 1 ton each were deployed in 50 feet of water by Walter Marine in a pre-permitted area known for attracting grouper, snapper, amberjack, king mackerel and cobia. These specific reef structures, will provide greater habit diversity while attracting vast species of fish and appealing more to recreational anglers and divers. The reef site is located offshore 15 miles south of Carrabelle at approximately 29°39.882 N. 84° 30.012 W. The super structures are embedded with Safley’s passions and interests, including a golf club, aluminum redfish, aluminum tomahawk steak along with family memorabilia. The reef was funded by a $25,000 donation from Building Conservation Trust (BCT), $25,000 from CCA Florida and $75,000 from FWC.
CCA/Duke Mexico Beach Artificial Reef – On May 2, 2022, CCA Florida joined Duke Energy and partnered with the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association (MBARA) to deploy four 38,000-pound and four 5,000-pound reef modules off Mexico Beach to create “The Duke Energy/CCA Florida Reef.” The eight reef modules were deployed by Walter Marine at the pre- permitted Sherman Site, an area known for attracting red and gray snappers, amberjack, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, gag grouper, and cobia. These specific reef structures, ranging in height from 8 to 25 feet, provide greater habit diversity while attracting vast species of fish and appealing more to recreational anglers. The reef site is located offshore 11 miles west of Mexico Beach at 29º 55.384, -85º 40.765. Duke Energy contributed $60,000 to this artificial reefproject.
CCA Dragon Reef Eagle Scout Sponsorship – CCA Florida sponsored Andrew Hall’s “Dragon Reef” eagle scout project that was deployed off of Broward County on April 18, 2022. Andrew is the son of our contact at Contender Boats and he completed his eagle scout project which involved deploying 4 artificial reefs he personally constructed with his boy scout troop. The first 3 reefs consisted of cinder block reefs embedded in a concrete pad and each reef weighs about 4 tons. The fourth reef consisted of a pair of stainless steel stabilizers with steel pipes going through them which was also embedded in a concrete pad, and it weighs about 3 tons. The reefs were deployed in 70-feet of water off Lauderdale by the Sea in site C2 at approximately 26° 09.5150 N and 80° 04.7710 W. CCA Florida agreed to cover the $5,500 funding Andrew needed to tow and deploy the structures.
CCA Turtle Bay Oyster Reef – On May 26, 2022, CCA Florida partnered with Ingman Marine, Abbott Construction, Lee Reefs, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF), Capt. Jay Withers, Placida Point LLC, Clermont Oyster Bar and Lake County Solid Waste Division to deploy another two dump truck loads of oyster shells in Charlotte Harbor’s Turtle Bay in effort to boost water quality, marine fisheries and recreational angling. The oysters were hauled from CCA Florida’s Oyster Recycling Program at the Lake County Landfill in Astatula and transported to Placida. The oysters were then loaded onto a barge, provided by Abbott Construction, and deployed in Turtle Bay at a pre-permitted location.
Duke/FDEP/CCA Spartina Grass Planting Project – On February 1, 2022, volunteers from CCA Florida helped the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Central Panhandle Aquatic Preserves harvest thousands of smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) plants from the Duke Energy Mariculture Center in Crystal River. The spartina grass, donated by Duke Energy and the University of Florida/IFAS, were re-planted by CCA’s Frank Gidus and other volunteers at the Cat Point Living Shoreline located at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Starship II Reef – Following the Starship Reef that was deployed off the coast of Jacksonville in 2018, CCA Florida began working with BCT, Shell and Shell Lubricants again in 2021 on the new Starship II Reef. On August 23rd, 2022, nearly 400 tons of concrete and 25 tons of granite were deployed in 50 feet of water to create the Starship II Reef about 2.75 miles off the coast of Ponce Inlet, W 80° 53.316’ N 29° 07.276’.The deployment took place on Volusia County’s newly permitted Lighthouse Point Artificial Reef site. The 400 tons of concrete was donated by Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) and transported by them from St. Cloud to Titusville. OUC also donated the use of a temporary staging and loading site for the reef materials at their power plant on the Indian River Lagoon in Titusville. Special thanks to our partners BCT, Shell USA, OUC, Volusia County and McCulley Marine for helping make this project a reality.
Dr. Bart Carey Memorial Reef – On July 25, 2022, CCA Florida and the Organization for Artificial Reefs deployed 46 reef modules off the coast of Carrabelle, Florida in memory of the late Dr. Bart Carey from Tallahassee. Forty-six concrete and limestone reef modules weighing approximately 336 tons were deployed in 50 feet of water 10 miles southeast of Dog Island to create the Dr. Bart Carey Memorial Reef. The pre-fabricated reef modules consisted of five ‘Super Reef’ modules that are 15 feet tall, and forty-one 8-foot tall ‘Florida Special’ modules. They were distributed among five patch reefs in close proximity to each other with Dr. Carey’s family and friends in attendance. The center pointof the reef modules is N 29° 39.711, W 084° 30.000. CCA Florida was honored to play a role in creating new marine habitat for decades to come in Dr. Carey’s memory, and we thank the Carey family and friends for trusting us with this task. CCA Florida teamed with the Carey family, the City of Carrabelle, and the Organization for Artificial Reefs (OAR) and submitted a $60,000 grant application to FWC in March 2021. In June 2021, we received news that the grant was approved, but for a total of $138,000! The total project cost was $165,000.
John Michael Baker (JMB) Memorial Reef – CCA Florida once again supported the annual deployment on the JMB Memorial Reef off Broward County in 2022 with a donation over $6,000. The remaining funds for the deployment were generated through donations and from the annual JMB fishing tournament. On October 4th, 2022, the fourth deployment on the JMB Memorial Reef in Broward County was successfully deployed. Seventeen structures weighing over 150,000 pounds were deployed in approximately 70 feet of water in memory of John Michael Baker, a CCA member, avid diver and angler who passed away in a tragic boating accident in 2015. The main reef structure consisted of a 10,000-pound reef ball containing John Michael Baker’s ashes and a plaque. The project is located just offshore of Fort Lauderdale between Oakland Park Blvd. and Birch State Park and was led by the family and members of the CCA Broward Chapter. Special thanks to our partners, including Guice Offshore, CCA Florida, US Concrete Products, Brownies Global Logistics, Industrial Divers, Dania Cut Superyacht Repair, Broward County and Reef Innovations for helping make this project a reality. And, thank you to Captain Rick Murphy and RM Media for the awesome video footage.
15th Annual Treasure Coast Waterway Cleanup – The CCA Treasure Coast Chapter participated in the 15th annual Treasure Coast Waterway Cleanup hosted by the Marine Industries Association of the Treasure Coast, Inc. and the Florida Inland Navigational District. From July 16 to July 24, 125 miles of waterways were cleaned up in Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties. The CCA Treasure Coast Chapter participated in island cleanups in Indian River County on July 23, removing hundreds of pounds of trash and marine debris. The cleanup was followed by some free pizza courtesy of CCA Florida at the Walking Tree Brewery in Vero Beach.
Duke Energy Cleanup at Fort Desoto Park – CCA Florida staff joined Duke Energy with the organization of a cleanup event for Duke Environmental Health & Safety employees at Fort Desoto on June 16th, 2022. The cleanup event began at 9 am and ran until noon, followed by a pavilion box lunch provided by Duke.
MDC/CCA Oyster Pillow Event – On February 6th, 2022, volunteers from Travel Country Outfitters, Kayak Junkies and CCA Florida joined forces to make 151 oyster reef restoration bags at the Marine Discovery Center (MDC) in New Smyrna Beach. These bags (called pillows) will be used for oyster reef restoration and habitat improvement efforts in the Mosquito Lagoon and three state parks in Flagler County.
Samsons Island Submerged Lands Restoration Project – On March 5th, 2022, CCA Florida volunteers participated with the City of Satellite Beach on the Samsons Island Submerged Lands Restoration Project. The city is testing new techniques with project partners by creating a habitat mosaic utilizing clams, oysters and seagrass. 30 tons of recycled oyster shells were used to create an oyster breakwater, along with13,500 seagrass plugs and 42,000 clams. Other participants included the Marine Discovery Center, Florida Institute of Technology, Florida Oceanographic Society, Whitney Laboratories and Satellite Beach High School.
UCF Inaugural Cement Ring Workshop – In March 2022, CCA Florida, the University of Central Florida (UCF) Environmental Professionals student club, and colleagues from AECOM participated in the inaugural cement ring workshop at UCF. These concrete rings have been scientifically proven to provide excellent oyster recruitment while providing shoreline stabilization. A total of 80 cement rings were completed by the volunteers.
Southwest Florida (SWFL) Fishing Club Coastal Cleanup – On March 26th, 2022, CCA Florida joined the SWFL Fishing Club for a coastal cleanup at Causeway Islands Park. Dozens of volunteers picked up tons of trash along the beaches and even received awesome raffle prizes provided by CCA Florida.
Oyster Mats at Marine Discovery Center – On April 16, 2022, volunteers from the Lakeland Magic and CCA Florida (including two new STAR members) made oyster mats at the Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach. These oyster mats are a vital part of the habitat restoration work in the Mosquito Lagoon by UCF, FWC, the National Park Service, the Indian River Council and CCA Florida.
CCA Florida/Sarasota Bay Watch Clam Event – On May 6th, 2022, CCA Florida assisted Sarasota Bay Watch (SBW) sort, tumble, clean and deploy 105,000 clams in Sarasota Bay. CCA Florida is a proud SBW supporter and has donated $30,000, which equates to 300,000 clams, to support its efforts. To date, SBW has deployed more 750,000 clams in Sarasota Bay in order to restore natural populations and to clean and filter the water.
CCA Florida/UCF Oyster Patty Event – On May 2, 2022, CCA Florida volunteers and staff held an oyster reef restoration event at UCF and manufactured “patties” using burlap mixed with cement. These structures provide an excellent substrate for oyster reef restoration. This batch will soon be put to work in the Mosquito Lagoon attracting new oysters and helping seagrasses reestablish. Special thanks to Zach and ReginaThrasher for putting it together.
Haul Out Indian River Event – On May 7th, CCA Florida joined Thrash Can and Fresh Catch Coffee to “Haul Out Indian River.” Dozens of volunteers participated and picked up tons of trash on land and water. CCA Florida also brought some raffle prizes too.
Canaveral National Seashore Living Shoreline Stabilization – On May 25-26, 2022, CCA Florida along with volunteers from the Marine Discovery Center, IRL National Estuary Program, FWC, National Park Service, the Lakeland Magic, Florida Sea Grant and UCF, which included undergraduates in the National Science Foundation Research Experience, deployed living- shoreline stabilization along 450 feet of highly eroded Native American shell middens. Volunteers planted 143 mangroves and 400 spartina (marsh grass) plugs and also deployed 150 cement/jute wavebreaks plus 400 soft metal gabions filled with recycled oyster shell wave breaks. These living shorelines provide incredible marine habitat while protecting and preserving these archeologically significant ancient shell middens. Thank you to everyone for their time and muscle power.
Oyster Repair in Mosquito Lagoon – On June 9, 2022, volunteers from Brambles Ltd, MDC, FWC, UCF and CCA Florida worked to repair damaged restored oyster reefs in the Mosquito Lagoon. To date, 91 oyster reefs have been restored in the Mosquito Lagoon, an indication that our efforts are producing positive results. In fact, the most Star grass (Halophila engelmannii) an FWC researcher has ever observed wasrecently spotted at a monitoring site near River Breeze Park in Oak Hill. This is an exciting development as Star grass thrives in clear water.
CCA/University of North Florida Restoration Project – CCA Florida is working with Dr. Kelly Smith, Associate Professor of the UNF Biology Department, on a joint CCA/UNF coastal oyster restoration and marsh restoration project. The project locations are Shell Bluff in St. Johns County, and Kingsley Plantation in Duval County. CCA Florida contributed $4,633 which included lift nets and fish monitoring supplies for this upcoming coastal wetland restoration project. In addition to the funding, CCA members will work with UNF on the construction of modules for the project. The construction events (building molds for the cement) occurred in June 2022. The oyster shells will be graded and collected at GTMNERR Middle Beach. The initial cement coating and POSH construction took place at UNF on July 6 and 7.
Ongoing Restoration in Mosquito Lagoon – Between June 24-28, 2022, CCA Life Members Frank Gidus, Tom Emge and Greg Harrison assisted UCF, MDC, FWC, the IRL National Estuary Program and the National Park Service to restore nine oyster reefs and enhance two more by using BESE (biodegradable mesh made from potato chip waste and recycled oyster shells from local restaurants) oyster mats and cement-infused jute patties. This restoration work added 500 live oysters per square meter across 1,011 square meters (roughly .25 acres), which equates to 505,750 new oysters. If each oyster filters 25 gallons of water a day, then that means 12,643,759 gallons of additional water will be filtered each day in Mosquito Lagoon. CCA Florida Supports UCF’s Coastal & Estuarine Ecology Lab Educator’s Workshop – On September 1st, CCA Florida provided boat support, food and swag for UCF Professor’s Dr. Linda Walters’ 13th annual K-12 Educator’s Workshop in Canaveral National Seashore. Excited teachers from area elementary schools were treated to a very special day on boats and even harvested mangrove propagules (seeds), which will be sprouted and planted by their students during the school year.
Red Mangrove Propagule Collection/Planting – On September 15, 2022, CCA Florida staff and volunteers collected almost 1,000 red mangrove propagules from the Indian River Land Trust Coastal Oaks property along the Treasure Coast. The propagules were then transported to the Duke Energy Mariculture Center in Crystal River. Special thanks to Treasure Coast volunteers Pat and Andy Steinbergs for their help on this project. The propagule collection was followed up in October by CCA Florida staff who ventured to the Mariculture Center to help plant the red mangrove propagules into pots. Once the mangroves mature, they will be used for habitat restoration projects along the southwest coast in areas negatively affected by Hurricane Ian.
Brevard County Reefs – CCA Florida has an ongoing partnership with Brevard County to support their artificial reef program. Last year, CCA donated $3,000 to contribute toward their upcoming 2022 summer deployments. As in years past, CCA also wrote a grant support letteron behalf of Brevard County for an FWC artificial reef grant in which they were awarded funding. CCA Life Member Greg Harrison has been working on the Brevard artificial reef program for many years and has observed excellent invertebrate species growth on them as well as black sea bass, juvenile red snapper, crabs and large schools of baitfish. CCA again donated $3,000 to their reefing program in March 2022 forthe 2023 deployment, along with another grant support letter to FWC.
Sarasota Bay Watch Clam Restoration – This past summer, CCA Florida donated another $10,000 to Sarasota Bay Watch (SBW) to sponsor the restoration of 100,000 clams back into Sarasota Bay. This is the third year that CCA Florida has contributed to this program. SBW is working to restore clams and scallops to the bay with these important filter-feeders that play a critical role in mitigating poor water quality. They actually eat red tide and other algae, sequester carbon, filter up to 10 gallons of water per day, and provide food for other marine life. In total, each of the 300,000 clams are over 2-inches in size and according to Dr. Bruce Barber, Executive Director of the Gulf Shellfish Institute, a single 2-inch clam filters out 50,000,000 red tide organisms per day. That equates to 1 trillion organisms per day for the 300,000 clams.
Addictive Fishing/CCA FL/UF/FWC Clam Restoration Project – The IRL Clam Restoration Project began in 2017 and will continue indefinitely. Just over 12 million super clams have been deployed in the IRL to date. CCA Florida teamed up with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the University of Florida Whitney Laboratory (UF) for the third year in a row on a grant submittal for the project from the IRL NEP. Funding from CCA in 2022 will come in the form of an in-kind match on the grant, if awarded, and includes boat support and volunteer hours totaling $34,040. On April 22, 2022, CCA Florida joined Star brite to host its inaugural “Clean Water Collective,”a three-day event to celebrate Earth Day and promote habitat restoration in the IRL. Clean Water Collective and CCA Florida volunteers also planted hundreds of mangroves, attended education workshops focused on marine conservation and participated in a coastal cleanup. The event kicked off on Earth Day at Marker 24 Marina located on the Banana River.
And on September 10, CCA Florida and our partners released 55,000 more clams in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) behind Florida Oceanographic Society (FOS) in Jensen Beach. The clams were transported in a cooling truck, increasing the possibility for early spawning. Since 2018, over 15 million clams have been deployed in the IRL as part of this collaboration project in effort to improve water quality and habitat restoration! Special thanks to University of Florida Whitney Laboratory, Blair Wiggins Outdoors, Florida Fish andWildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and FOS for helping make this project a reality.
NOAA 2021-2022 Marine Debris Removal Grant – Because of our successful partnership with Ocean Aid 360, Inc. on our 2018-2020 grant awards titled, “Ghost Trap Rodeo: Diverse groups affecting long-term habitat improvement through removal of marine debris in the form of Tampa Bay’s derelict traps & fishing gear” NOAA invited us to apply again this year. Ocean Aid 360 and CCA Florida were awarded the $120,000 grant again for the calendar years 2021-2022. The Ghost Trap Rodeo Event Series is a family-friendly event dedicated to improving and maintaining the health of Florida’s sensitive marine environments for the longevity of our shallow water fishery. This angler-led restoration project, designed by Ocean Aid 360 and CCA Florida, funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), is built on the belief that shallow water anglers know their local waters as well or better than anyone. The Ghost Trap Rodeo is an opportunity show what you know, to find and remove derelict crab traps, which catch and kill unchecked, and other forms of marine debris that negatively impact our fishery. Seven Ghost Trap Rodeos were held around the state of Florida in 2021 and 2022 and included:
- Apalachicola on Sat. 1/9/21 (Over 4,000 pounds of marine debris and 78 derelict crab traps were removed from the water by approx. 50 volunteers).
- Homosassa on Sat. 7/24/21 (Over 1,300 pounds of marine debris and 42 derelict crab traps were removed from the water by approx. 50 volunteers).
- Jacksonville on Sat. 1/16/22 (1,650 pounds of marine debris and 62 derelict crab traps were removed by volunteers in just 4 hours).
- Tampa Bay 1/22/2022 (4,480 pounds of marine debris and 27 derelict crab traps were removed by more than 100 volunteers).
- Titusville on Sat. 8/13/22 (6,397 pounds of marine debris and 123 derelict crab traps were removed by more than 100 volunteers, including none other than Capt. Blair Wiggins and Blair Wiggins Outdoors).
Treasure Coast CCA Riverside Park Re-vegetation Project – CCA Florida recently joined the City of Vero Beach, the Treasure Coast CCA, and the Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County on a ditch re-vegetation project in the IRL. The City of Vero Beach has approximately 2,000 feet of shoreline in a drainage ditch connected to the eastern shore of the Indian River Lagoon on the north side of Riverside Park. The project consisted of re-grading the shoreline and re-vegetating the area with native vegetation. CCA Florida donated $5,000 to the project and provided volunteers for the work.
For the latest conservation updates please visit our website @ www.ccaflorida.org
License Plate – CCA in coordination with the Florida Legislature, passed a bill to create a Conserve Florida’s Fisheries License plate. $25 of the purchase price for the license plate will go back to CCA and will be used for habitat projects, water quality projects, and restocking efforts inFlorida’s coastal waters in the coming years.
Water Quality – Florida’s water quality continues to be CCA Florida’s highest advocacy priority. CCA Florida’s Water QualitySubcommittee continues to work on and monitor several resource issues around the state. These include the following: Florida’s sewage system infrastructure, the Everglades, the Apalachicola River and Apalachicola Bay, the Indian River Lagoon, the Caloosahatchee River basin,Pine Island Sound, Tampa Bay, the St. John’s River basin, and Florida Bay. We are pleased to see money being allocated from the Wastewater Grant Program for wastewater treatment improvements, including septic to sewer projects and projects to upgrade to advanced waste treatments and we will continue to monitor and work with the State on projects to fix Florida’s water issues. CCA is encouraged by the completion of the C-44 and continued support for the Everglades. We believe that more attention needs to be given to the water quality in the Indian River Lagoon.
Dolphin Fish – Continue to work with the FWC and the South Atlantic Council to re-examine dolphin management measures and calling on NOAA Fisheries to expend the resources necessary for the Council to make informed decisions on ensuring the dolphin fishery is healthy and sustainable.
Red Tide Affect – Work with FWC/FWRI to obtain updates to examine the impact of the red tide on inshore and offshore fisheries.
Red Snapper – Continue working with FWC, South Atlantic Council, and the Gulf Council to get better data and create longer seasons. Worktowards State Management on the Atlantic and turn discards into landings.
Right Whales- Continue to work with NOAA regarding the proposed slow speed zones off Florida’s Atlantic coast.
Hatchery Program – CCA will continue its partnership with Duke Energy in cooperation with FWC to help rebuild redfish and trout stocks off the Florida’s Coast through hatchery efforts. Through the partnership we are also planting mangroves, spartina grass, and oysters to be used inshoreline stabilization projects.
CCA Florida’s ongoing habitat restoration work highlighted below continues to have a positive impact on water quality, water clarity, and marine species around the state of Florida.
CCA/University of North Florida Restoration Project – CCA Florida is working with Dr. Kelly Smith, Associate Professor of the UNF Biology Department, on a joint CCA/UNF coastal oyster restoration and marsh restoration project. The project locations are Shell Bluff in St. Johns County, and Kingsley Plantation in Duval County. CCA Florida contributed $4,633 which included lift nets and fish monitoringsupplies for this upcoming coastal wetland restoration project. In addition to the funding, CCA members will work with UNF on theconstruction of modules for the project. The construction events (building molds for the cement) occurred in June 2022. The oyster shells will begraded and collected at GTMNERR Middle Beach. The initial cement coating and POSH construction took place at UNF on July 6th and 7th. Deployment is planned for 2023 and a group of inner city youth (the Green Team) will assist in the deployment.
CCA/UCF Ongoing Restoration Projects – CCA Florida is continuing its partnership with the University of Central Florida (UCF), the Marine Discovery Center (MDC), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) National Estuary Program, and the National Park Service to restore and enhance oyster reefs by using BESE (biodegradable mesh made from potato chip waste and recycled oyster shells from local restaurants) oyster mats and cement-infused jute patties in Mosquito Lagoon. CCA Florida’s Life Member and Habitat Committee Chairman Greg Harrison has orchestrated this partnership for over 12 years.
Brevard County Reefs – CCA Florida has an ongoing partnership with Brevard County to support their ongoing artificial reef program. This year, CCA Florida donated $3,000 toward Brevard’s upcoming 2023 artificial reef deployments. As in years past, CCA also wrote a grant support letter on behalf of Brevard County for an FWC artificial reef grant in which they were awarded funding. CCA Florida has been working on the Brevard artificial reef program for many years and has recently observed excellent invertebrate species growth on the reefs as well as black sea bass, juvenile red snapper, crabs and large schools of baitfish.
Seagrass Restoration SW Fork of the Loxahatchee River – CCA Florida teamed with the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, Seagrass Restoration Foundation and Sea & Shoreline on a new pilot seagrass restoration project. The purpose of this pilot project is to permanently restore 1.61 acres of seagrass, consisting of Halodule wrightii and Ruppia maritima, in the Loxahatchee River, a tributary to the Indian River Lagoon (IRL). The project is located in the Southwest Fork of the Loxahatchee River and centered at 26°56’33.93″N, 80° 7’13.09″W. The project team is currently obtaining permits from both FDEP and USACE before beginning the seagrass planting. CCA Florida is contributing $20,000 to this $100,000 restoration project.
Wildlife Florida/CCA IRL Eelgrass Restoration – CCA Florida has partnered on a new eelgrass restoration project along the IRL with Wildlife Florida and FWC. Wildlife Florida and FWC are currently raising funds to plant eelgrass in seven locations along the IRL to replenish the grass and provide a food source for the manatees. FWC plans to out plant the eelgrass as soon as funding becomes available foreach site. The seven sites identified have good water quality and a known manatee presence. Once the eelgrass is out-planted, it will be fenced offfor 3-6 months to prevent foraging, and allow it to establish. A formal vote from the Habitat Committee voted in favor to fund $10,000 for the10-Mile Creek restoration site portion of this project. The eelgrass will be planted in an oxbow off the creek, and this area has slower moving water and has a lot of nice shallow areas for plants. FWC estimates 0.35 acres will be planted within the oxbow (35 exclosures and 175 4”eelgrass pots – including delivery and installation) in the Spring of 2023.
Oil Rig Reef Okaloosa County – CCA Florida is working with Okaloosa County on a new artificial reef consisting of used oil rig jackets mounted onto two 100-foot barges. The oil rigs would be transported from the Louisiana/Texas area on the barges and sunk with the barges tocreate a diverse artificial reef habitat. It will be a cost savings as far as transportation goes, make a more diverse reef, and will be a lot easier logistically to sink the oil rigs with the barges. There is also minimal cleaning since we are just dealing with a steel structure and no fuel or other harmful materials to remove. Because the reef requires approximately 50 feet of relief, the shallowest it could be deployed is 100 feet. Similar live oil rigs out of Mississippi and Louisiana as well as numerous rigs to reef projects throughout the Gulf of Mexico have been shown to create a huge habitat footprint and ideal locations for fishing and diving.
Bob Burton Memorial Reef – CCA Florida is working with CCA member Diane Burton to honor her late husband with a memorial reef off Palm Beach County. Bob Burton was a CCA Life Member from Palm Beach, Florida and was one of the most active volunteers CCA has ever known. He served on a couple different fisheries management panels and would attend every CCA board meeting and pretty much every CCA statewide event. Everyone that knew Bob knew that if you fished with him, he would make you join CCA! Last year, CCA received the approval from Palm Beach County to co-apply for the FWC artificial reef grant for this project, which was awarded in the amount of $60,000. The deployment plan is to have a large memorial structure currently being built by a local marine artist, surrounded by several piles of large limestone boulders. In addition to the $60,000 FWC grant funds received, CCA Florida has raised an additional $40,545 for this project.
Blair Wiggins Outdoors/CCA FL/UF/FWC Clam Restoration Project – The IRL Clam Restoration Project began in 2017 with a partnership between Blair Wiggins Outdoors, CCA Florida, FWC and the University of Florida Whitney Laboratory. This is the first and only project of this type in the IRL. The primary goal of this restoration project is to immediately initiate clam restoration in the IRL by repatriatinghardy varieties of native clam species and assessing their survivorship under various environmental conditions. This ongoing collaboration project is an effort to restore filter feeding clams, improve water quality and improve habitat restoration in the IRL. To date, over 15 million super clams have been deployed in the IRL.
University of North Florida/CCA Florida Living Shoreline Oyster Restoration – The UNF Coastal and Marine Biology program and CCA Florida are working together to develop an experimental “Living Shoreline – Oyster Reef” project in northeast Florida. This project isintended to rebuild historical populations of Eastern oysters by providing suitable habitat for oyster spat to settle and grow. The reestablishment of oyster reefs at the test site will be expected to have a positive influence on reducing wave energy and associated shoreline erosion, providing greater protection to coastal properties. Furthermore, reef rebuilding is predicted to have a positive effect on improving water quality because of the pollution- filtering capabilities of oysters. It is also anticipated to have a beneficial effect on local shellfish and fish populations by providing increased habitat. This in turn can improve local opportunities for recreation, including fishing. We will accomplish this goal by constructing and field-deploying a total of 18-24 cement-based substrates known as pervious oyster shell habitat (POSH)units. POSH units are similar to reef balls and castles, structures that are constructed from concrete and occasionally include small amounts ofembedded oyster.
Indian River Land Trust/CCA Impoundment Improvement Project – In recent years, CCA Florida and its Treasure Coast Chapter have partnered with the Indian River Land Trust on efforts to improve Indian River Lagoon health and the health of iconic fish populations. To that end, the partners have been working towards modifications of management techniques in mosquito impoundments, which serve as important nursery habitat for juveniles of popular fish species such as tarpon and snook. During warmer months when the impoundments are isolated from the Lagoon and become stagnant, dropping oxygen levels and rising sulfide levels can become dangerous for fish and other aquatic organisms such as seagrasses. The partners are working to undertake a pilot project that uses a solar-powered aerator in a Land Trust-owned impoundment to reduce stress on and prevent loss of fish and seagrasses.
CCA Hernando County Jenkins Creek Living Shoreline Pilot Project – CCA Florida teamed with Hernando County on a project to restore 100 feet of shoreline within the Jenkins Creek Coastal Park for the purpose of stabilizing from further erosion and improving habitat. The project will also serve as a demonstration project for the public outreach. An additional benefit of this 2-year project will be the participation of the public and community to construct the project. Cost for the project would be for the materials include coir coconut fiber logs, oyster shell, bags for the oyster shell, and small reef balls. Permits are needed from FDEP and the USACE; however, this project qualifies as a Genera lPermit and can be obtained within 6 months. CCA Florida contributed $15,500 to this project.
CCA Hernando County Bendickson Artificial Reef Expansion – CCA Florida teamed with Hernando County to expand the Bendickson artificial reef using donated material and material constructed by volunteers. Materials available through the county include reef cubes and alimited number of reef balls. The Bendickson Reef is approximately 20 miles west of Hernando Beach in approximately 26 feet of water. CCA contributed $11,000 to this project.
St. Joe Bay Sea Urchin Roundup – CCA is currently working with FDEP to conduct several sea urchin round-ups in St. Joe Bay. The seaurchins have become a huge issue and are eating the seagrasses throughout the bay, including seagrasses recently restored by the FDEP. Plans are just beginning but the round-up will involve CCA members and boats collecting the urchins (mask, fin and snorkel only) and bringing them to nearby FDEP boats for off site relocation.
CCA Turtle Bay Oyster Reef Deployment 3 – CCA Florida is partnering with Ingman Marine, Abbott Construction, Lee Reefs, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF), Capt. Jay Withers, Placida Point LLC, Clermont Oyster Bar, Oyster Boys Conservation, Toadfish and Lake County Solid Waste Division to deploy 50-60 tons of oyster shells in Charlotte Harbor’s Turtle Bay. We will move approx. 4 dump truck loads of oyster shell from Lake County to Placida Point LLC. The shell will then be transported to the permitted site within Turtle Bay for deployment via barge. Farmed oyster ropes will then be placed on top of the new oyster reef to better establish growth.
Manatee River Oyster Habitat Restoration Project – The Manatee River Oyster Habitat Restoration Project supports Manatee County’s ecosystem restoration goal of restoring high-priority estuarine habitat (e.g., oyster reef) within the Manatee River for the benefit of fisheries and wildlife, including Florida’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN). The project includes the survey, design, and permitting of a0.5-to-1.5-acre oyster reef east of the US41 Bridge and an up to 5-to-10-acre oyster reef(s) further upriver to create two “shovel ready” project areas. Additionally, a 0.2-acre oyster reef will be constructed within the 0.5-to-1.5-acre permitted oyster reef area east of the US41 Bridge as partof this project. Manatee County will monitor the 0.2-acre oyster reef for success, as well as utilization by foraging avian wildlife. The timeline goals are to have the permitting completed in 6-9 months and have the project completed by November 30, 2024.
Citrus County Inshore Artificial Reef – CCA Florida is working with Citrus County and Reef Innovations on permitting a new inshore artificial reef. 3 sites are currently being explored and site surveys will be taking place in the Spring by Reef Innovations and CCA Florida. Once a site is selected, permitting is expected to take 9-12 months and the deployment would follow shortly thereafter.
CCA Oyster Recycling Facility Expansion – CCA Florida’s oyster recycling facility located at the Lake County Landfill in Tavares, Florida is getting a facelift in 2023. Through a newly expanded agreement with the Lake County Board of County Commissioners, a new parcel of land will be set aside for CCA to pave and improve for our oyster recycling operations. This will allow us to increase our donation intake of recycled oyster shells and will provide cleaner shells for our restoration work around the state.
CCA Florida Oyster Recycling Program – In partnership with the Clermont Oyster Bar in Lake County CCA Florida will continue to collect “green” oyster shell to be used for habitat restoration projects throughout the state.
For more information on CCA Florida Initiatives, please visit our website at www.ccaflorida.org