homepage logo

Don’t compromise the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve

By Staff | Feb 9, 2024

To the editor:

Rep. Adam Botana and Sen. Jonathan Martin are proposing a pair of bills ( HB 957 and SB 1210) to shrink the size of the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve to allow for dredging and facilitate development on San Carlos Island.

Botana claims that the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve boundary around San Carlos Island is ambiguous and needs to be clarified. Botana’s Bill would exclude the Island and some of the surrounding waters from the Preserve completely. Such an approach carry a threat of unintended consequences.

Botana suggests that removing San Carlos Island from the Aquatic Preserve would help the shrimp industry rebuild from the devastation of Hurricane Ian. It is of paramount importance to help the shrimp industry as a unique and valued commercial business but, without compromising the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve.

The San Carlos Island community have worked really hard over the years to achieve the status of a Working Waterfront Community. The designation provides opportunities for grant funds for infrastructure improvements to enhance the economic benefits of a viable and sustainable commercial fishing industry.

A Working Waterfront Community can and should receive expedited local and state permitting which would achieve the objective of facilitating the restoration of the shrimp dock facilities. Such an approach to benefit water dependent uses, as with the shrimp fleet operations, would avoid the future possibility of the construction of high-rise condominiums, should the protection of the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve be removed.

Ray Judah

Former Lee County commissioner