Six Hundred Days of Blasting: Miami’s Beloved Biscayne Bay Faces Destruction from “Project Deep Dredge”


Biscayne Bay’s pristine tropical waters teem with exotic marine life from manatees to dolphins to “super corals” to environmentally critical sea grasses. Strips of mangroves and wetlands cushion the shores. The bay’s untamed beauty attracts millions of tourists annually and draws nature-lovers and sun-worshipers from around the world to live on its idyllic shores. The Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve provides a safe haven for endangered species and an ideal nursing ground for dolphins and manatees.

But all that may soon change – if the shipping industry and its partners in the state government, like Gov. Rick Scott, have their way.

You see, Biscayne Bay is also home to the Port of Miami, and the shipping companies that lease it want to deepen the relatively shallow waterway to 52 feet to accommodate massive vessels, like the Super Post-Panamax variety – ships measuring nearly four football fields in length. The hope is that with those bigger ships, will come bigger port fees and larger profits.

The project, dubbed the “Deep Dredge,” will require a minimum of 600 days of dynamite blasting to dredge 415 acres of limestone bay bottom. With that blasting comes the destruction and removal of huge expanses irreplaceable coral reefs and sea grasses, not to mention the deaths of countless sea creatures from fish to manatees.

The cost to taxpayers? An estimated $2 billion. And did I mention that there’s no guarantee that the massive ships and increased profits will come? Miami is one of the most expensive ports in the United States, and its geographic location at the tip of a peninsula makes cargo destinations much farther away than they would be from other relatively nearby ports, like Jacksonville and Savannah.

The project makes no sense, but don’t take my word for it. Take time to watch this video and judge for yourself:

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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