The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners approved two contracts at today’s meeting that will benefit nearshore water quality in unincorporated Monroe County. The first contract is with Adventure Environmental and subcontractor Monroe County Commercial Fishermen to remove manmade marine debris along publicly owned shorelines and nearshore waters between Marathon and Sugarloaf Key. The county received a $1.3 million grant from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). This area was the hardest hit by Hurricane Irma in 2017 and has the highest density of remaining debris, including trap gear and entangled trap rope. FWC requires the vendor utilize local commercial fishermen to perform the work since they have extensive knowledge of Florida Keys waters and are well-equipped to perform this type of work.
“The water surrounding the Florida Keys are a precious resource and we are proud of the organizations and fishermen who have stepped up to clean up these areas,” said Monroe County Senior Administrator of Marine Resources Celia Hitchins.
While the FWC grant does not include marine debris removal in canals, the commissioners additionally approved a contract with Adventure Environmental to remove marine debris from 108 Hurricane Irma impacted canals in unincorporated Monroe County. The additional canals were not covered by the $49.2 million USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service grant that funded the clearing of 249 canals following Hurricane Irma. Adventure Environmental completed the original grant work ahead of time and under budget. The funding for the additional canals is from a Florida Department of Environmental Protection Stewardship grant.
“We are thankful the DEP sees the importance of cleaning hurricane-related marine debris from these additional canals in unincorporated Monroe County,” said Chief Resilience Officer Rhonda Haag. “Marine debris in canals affects our nearshore water quality and our fragile marine environment, and this effort will help restore our water quality.”