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.