Ocean Conservancy and the City of Miami today announced a groundbreaking partnership to protect the region’s ocean and coasts, including iconic Biscayne Bay and the Miami River. The City of Miami is the first ever “Shores Forward” partner, a brand new initiative led by Ocean Conservancy to partner with local leaders in the fight to conserve Florida’s most treasured asset: its marine environment.
The partnership was announced at a press conference on the Biscayne Bay waterfront outside of Miami City Hall this morning, where Ocean Conservancy Executive Vice President Emily Woglom joined Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Miami Super Bowl Host Committee Executive Director Ray Martinez. The “Shores Forward” partnership will focus on 5 key issue areas identified in Ocean Conservancy’s new Currents and Crossroads report: Water quality, marine wildlife, education and outreach, marine debris, and carbon pollution.
“Biscayne Bay serves as a crown jewel of Miami that is critical to our economy and quality of life,” said Mayor Francis Suarez. “Ocean Conservancy’s commitment to helping the City advance comprehensive solutions for the long-term health of our waters is a vital component to safeguard our natural assets as part of our larger resiliency efforts.”
“This is an all hands on deck moment. Helping Florida’s coasts means we have to work together,” said Emily Woglom, Executive Vice President of Ocean Conservancy. “All levels of government must play a role and we’re thrilled to be working with the City of Miami to find solutions to these pressing issues.”
“The City of Miami is stepping up and showing real leadership and prioritizing ocean health,” said J.P. Brooker, Senior Manager and Policy Counsel for Ocean Conservancy’s Florida Conservation program. “This partnership is just the first step in a long journey. This partnership depends on all of us working together – from local businesses, to advocates, city and county officials and beyond.”
“Miami’s history and future are inextricably tied to the river, bay and ocean. This partnership affirms our commitment to the health of these waters,” said City Manager Emilio Gonzalez. “Ocean Conservancy is to be commended for standing shoulder to shoulder with cities working to preserve healthy oceans.”
“The City’s partnership with Ocean Conservancy has already helped us develop a focused set of initiatives to address bay and ocean health through policy, infrastructure, operations and education outreach,” said Jane Gilbert, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Miami. “We look forward to this continued support as we implement Miami Forever Shores Forward.”
- Water quality: The City has increased its water quality monitoring and is in the process of updating its stormwater design guidelines. Miami will establish regulations and formal training requirements for landscaping professionals and other commercial fertilizer applicators in the City. Miami and Ocean Conservancy are also committing to work together to develop educational materials for consumers, residents and the general public to understand the proper times and ways to apply fertilizers to avoid negative impacts on the environment and the ocean.
- Marine wildlife: Miami will take new steps to restore habitat and protect marine wildlife, including implementing grates over stormwater outfalls to protect manatees, mangrove restoration efforts, marking storm drains to indicate impacts to marine wildlife, and committing to stronger enforcement of boating laws in sensitive habitats like Shrimpers Lagoon.
- Education and outreach: Mayor Francis Suarez will launch his “Mayor’s Challenge” with local non-profit Dream in Green to support conservation curriculum in Miami schools. Ocean Conservancy and Dream in Green are formal partners, working together to bring ocean education into Miami-area classrooms, and the city’s commitment further bolsters this effort.
- Marine debris: There’s enough plastic entering the ocean to fill Hard Rock Stadium to the brim every other day year round, so we know that cleanups alone won’t solve the problem. The City of Miami and Ocean Conservancy are committing to work together and with world-renowned plastic pollution scientists to conduct a comprehensive, city-wide survey of Miami’s plastic litter and pollution footprint. Miami will be the first major U.S. city to perform a comprehensive plastic pollution survey of this type. Once completed, this study will give the city the information it needs to make data-driven decisions on how to most effectively tackle the city’s plastic pollution challenges.
- Carbon pollution: Miami is taking concrete steps to move the Magic City toward a renewable energy future by updating its greenhouse gas inventory, converting its fleet to hybrid cars and creating incentives to switch to solar energy and improving infrastructure with electric car charging stations.
J.P. Brooker is available for interviews upon request.
Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with our partners, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it. For more information, visit oceanconservancy.org, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.