Florida Chapter NetworkDedicated to the protection and enjoyment of Florida's ocean, waves and beaches More Details
This February the Town of Palm Beach passed a resolution of support for banning single-use plastic bags in their community. The Town took up the issue because of the hard work and environmental advocacy of a local 9th grader, Gray Foster. Gray is a student at Palm Beach Day Academy and is passionate about protecting our ocean, waves, and beaches. At the Surfrider Foundation, we were so inspired by his advocacy that we decided to interview him as our March Volunteer of the Month!
What are some local issues that are affecting your ocean or beach?
The sand washing away seems to be what people talk about most here in Palm Beach. The town is always talking about how to get the sand back, but they never seem to talk about getting the dunes back. Pumping the sand around makes no sense because the ocean is going to put sand where it wants to. Town leaders say they need to pump sand to protect from storms, but they should never have let there be buildings on the dunes in the first place. Every time they pump sand they ruin it for surfers, but eventually the ocean takes back over and we get our breaks back. Also, plastic bags and fishing tackle are a big problem on our beaches.
What got you concerned about the impact of single-use plastics on our ocean?
I am involved in a few different beach clean-up groups and we have a lot of trouble getting the tiny bits of plastic off the beach and I know that is what turtles and fish will eat. Plastic bags turn into clear spaghetti and is just so hard to pick up. All the water bottles and caps and other trash are gross, but at least we can pick them up and I’m pretty sure a turtle isn’t going to eat a flip flop floating in the ocean, but I know they will eat a baggie and it might kill them.
If you could tell your elected officials anything about our ocean or environment, what would it be?
Here in Florida if we don’t keep the ocean clean there will be no tourism. The beaches are the main reason people come so if you are an elected official and you aren’t doing something about trash on the beaches then you don’t care about Florida at all. Of course there is golf, but if there was as much trash on every golf course as there is on every beach, maybe our elected officials would do something about it.
Why is it important for young people to get involved in protecting the ocean?
Young people are the ones who are going to have to deal with the problem when it gets too big for individuals to handle. We are the ones who have to remind people that their trash doesn’t go away even when you die. My grandfather tells me stories of finding conch and lobster everywhere on our shallow reefs when he was a boy. I have never seen that. I’ve also never, ever seen him use a plastic grocery bag or a plastic water bottle and he would never walk past a piece of trash and not pick it up. He’s 80 and if he cares enough to do his part, we have to also. I don’t want to explain to my grandchildren that we knew about the Pacific plastic trash gyre, but plastic bags and water bottles were just too convenient to give up.
What was something that you learned while writing and researching your report on plastics?
Florida has a law to prevent towns and small cities from doing anything about single use plastic bags. That makes absolutely zero sense when you think of how much coastline we have and how important our beaches are to our economy. It also means that Florida doesn’t think individual citizens should be able to make local government decisions. Who exactly does this law benefit? Even if you don’t care about plastic bags trashing our beaches and killing sea turtles, you should be worried that the state made a law that only benefits a small, specific group like plastic grocery bag makers instead of protecting the main industry of our state.
Is there anything else we should know about you?
I do every sport I possibly can on the ocean: bodyboard, paddle surf, kite board, windsurf, fish, free dive, sail, basically anything that means I can be in the water. Ocean conservation is a passion for me because it’s my whole life out there even when it’s cold or rough and not just a sunny beach day. I’ll keep doing whatever I can to protect the creatures out there and keep our ocean healthy.
Join the Surfrider Foundation at the Florida Capitol on March 14th for Florida Coasts & Ocean Advocacy Day. Take a stand to protect our ocean, waves, and beaches! This is your opportunity to meet with lawmakers in person and to advocate for the bag bill, an end to the Lake Okeechobee discharges, water quality monitoring for our beaches, and more! Click here to learn more!
We’ll also be hosting a citizen advocacy training session on March 13th, 7pm. If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to be an effective advocate for the issues that impact you, now is your chance! Click here to learn more!
At the National Hurricane Center, Scott created a comprehensive recycling program for their facilities on the campus of Florida International University in Miami, FL. To augment limitations in the Waste Management recycle collection process, Scott volunteered to personally deliver collected polystyrene and plastic bags to the local recycling facilities.
Looking for something awesome to do this month? Check out a Surfrider event near you! Don’t see something nearby? Contact us to get in touch with your local chapter!
Tuesday January 17th:
Miami Chapter Smoke Free Beaches Celebration MORE
Wednesday, January 18th:
Cocoa Beach Chapter Meeting MORE
Thursday, January 19th:
Broward County Chapter Meeting MORE
Sebastian Inlet Chapter Move Night, “A Plastic Ocean” MORE
Sunday, January 22nd:
Suncoast Chapter Community Kickoff Party MORE
The Surfrider Foundation is working hard to promote positive change through legislation in the Florida House and Senate. Here are some of the important issues that we’re working on in the 2017 Legislative Session. Want to learn more? Contact us to find out how you can get involved!
Disposable Bags- Allow coastal municipalities with populations under 100,000 to create a pilot program to regulate or ban disposable plastic bags.
- Plastic is the most common type of marine litter worldwide.
- An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and up to 1 million sea birds die every year after ingesting or being tangled in plastic marine littler.
- Up to 80% of the plastic in our oceans comes from land-based sources.
- In 2009, about 3.8 million tons of waste plastic “bags, sacks, and wraps” were generated in the U.S., but only 9.4% of this was recycled.
- Approximately thirty municipalities have passed resolutions requesting the home rule authority to regulate single-use plastics bags locally.
- Support HB93/S162
Fund Florida Healthy Beaches Program- Restore funding to monitor beaches for dangerous bacteria and water pollution.
- The program samples for fecal coliform and enterococci bacteria, which are bacterial indicators of poor water quality.
- Exposure to contaminated water can lead to gastroenteritis, respiratory illness, rashes, eye and ear ailments, and more.
- State funds were cut in 2011 and never restored. Now, Florida relies on federal funding for the program.
- Fund the Florida Healthy Beaches Program to protect human health and our coastal economy.
- Appropriate $525,000 to the Florida Department of Health expressly for the Florida Healthy Beaches Program.
Stop Lake Okeechobee Discharges- Purchase land to allow for adequate water storage south of Lake Okeechobee, restore flows to the Everglades and Florida Bay, and stop discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Estuaries.
- The impacted estuaries rely on a delicate mix of salt and fresh water to sustain sea grass, oyster beds, and a multitude of species that inhabit their waters.
- Inundated by releases of polluted freshwater, the estuaries have suffered tremendous damage. Toxic algal blooms have suffocated over 30,000 acres of seagrass, threatened human health, and killed countless seabirds, manatees, and dolphins.
- Skin contact with cyanotoxins can cause irritation of the skin (rash or skin blisters), eyes, nose and throat, and inflammation of the respiratory tract. Swallowing water containing high concentrations can lead to nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Effects on the liver and nervous system of animals and people have also been documented in severe cases.
- At the southern end of the state, the lack of freshwater has caused a “near catastrophic” seagrass die off due to hyper salinity.
- Support Senator Negron’s proposal to acquire 60,000 acres south of Lake Okeechobee.
Adaptation Planning– Promote policies that help Florida incorporate adaptation and resiliency planning into all beach and coastal programs.
- Florida is the most at-risk state for sea-level rise, yet there is no reference to these issues in any of the state’s coastal development and beach management laws, and there is no statewide plan to mitigate the impacts of climate change and sea-level rise to our beaches.
- Three-fourths of Florida’s population resides in coastal counties that generate 79% of the state’s total annual economy.
- A resilient coastline will protect our infrastructure, ecosystems, recreation, and economy for generations to come.
Join the Sierra Club Marine Action Team, Surfrider Foundation, and Florida Coastal & Ocean Coalition for a public forum on National Ocean Policy in the Gulf of Mexico. Speakers will discuss oil & gas exploration, seismic testing, fisheries, coastal communities, adaptation and sea level rise, and more! There is no cost and the event will include lunch.
What: Public Forum on Our Ocean’s Future
When: November 4rd, 8:30AM-1:00PM
Where: West St. Petersburg Public Library @ St. Petersburg College
(6605 5th Ave. N. St. Petersburg, FL 33710)
Who: All are welcome!
Note- this event will also include an optional field trip to explore Tampa Bay ecosystems following the forum. When registering, please indicate your interest in attending a field trip. Details to follow.
Online registration has closed. Please contact Holly Parker directly to register: 850-567-3393, email@example.com
Join the Surfrider Foundation on September 17th for International Coastal Cleanup Day! Last year, volunteers across the world cleaned up over 18 million pounds of trash!
The Surfrider Foundation is opposed the the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s proposed Human Health Based Water Quality Criteria. The criteria decreases protection for Florida’s most vulnerable by increasing allowable levels of carcinogens and chemicals in our surface waters.
Take action by contacting the EPA TODAY! Ask the EPA to:
- Please hold multiple hearings and opportunities for public comment across Florida. The proposed revisions to Florida’s Human Health-Based Water Quality Criteria have far reaching impacts, and as such, are deserving of adequate forethought and deliberation.
- Regardless of the risk assessment method utilized, please direct the FDEP to adopt the most stringent criteria for Florida’s human health-based water quality criteria. It is unacceptable that Florida is increasing allowable levels of over two dozen chemicals.
- Please utilize Florida-specific seafood consumption data. Floridians eat large qualities of locally caught seafood- much more than the national average. Utilizing the best available data for fish consumption rates will help protect more Floridians.
- Email the EPA here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Save the Date: The Florida Chapter Conference will be held in St. Petersburg at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront, November 4th-6th. Stay tuned for registration details!
What: Surfrider Foundation Florida Chapter Conference
When: Nov. 4th-6th, 2016
Who: All current Surfrider Foundation members!
How: Registration open on ChapterNET August 1st
Congratulations to our April Volunteer of the Month, Marilu Christina Flores! Marilu currently serves as the Treasurer of the Miami Chapter- but does much more than crunch numbers and keep the books! Miami Chapter Chair Jayson Koch writes,
“Since Marilu relocated back to Miami in 2015 from Vermont, she has taken on the Surfrider Miami Treasurer role and overall, has gone above and beyond! Marilu attends all Surfrider events- most of which she was also a key lead in planning and executed advance work and detail. She is a fearless fundraiser and is always eager to ask local businesses for donations or support for the Miami Chapter. In November 2015, Marilu worked with Volcom to give us the Miami premier rights for their Psychic Migrations film, to show at our fall fundraiser event. She always reaches out to get food/drink donations for clean-up events and meetings, and secures the best raffle donations for our fundraiser events.