|January 9, 2014 Land Use Meeting|
Agenda Item #7
Gulf Consortium Visioning Survey
Contact and/or Presenter Information
Charlie Hunsicker, Director, Parks and Natural Resources
Authorization for Chairman to sign letter of transmittal to the Chair of the Gulf Consortium communicating Manatee County's needs and priorities consistent with the goals of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and authorized uses of funds stemming from the civil penalties derived from the BP Oil Spill of 2010 as set forth in the Congressional RESTORE Act.
F.S. Chapter 125 and Manatee County Comprehensive Plan
On January 3, 2014 Manatee County received a request from staff to the Gulf Coast Consortium Executive Committee requesting that the County provide a statement of the County's greatest needs which fit the goals of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and authorized uses of funds under the RESTORE Act and to submit this statement of need by January 10, 2014. (See attached)
Manatee County staff, the Manatee County Port Authority and several private interests have communicated to the Board many projects and proposals that continue to be compiled on the County's web page dedicated to the RESTORE Act program. Insofar that the Council is seeking input on the most important of these needs and project proposals and has specifically stated that they are not looking for individual projects, rather priority programs based upon a strategic need within the County, staff recommends that priority be given to three broad categories:
(1) Environmental Restoration
(2) Infrastructure Projects focusing on Port infrastructure
(3) Promotion of seafood harvested from the Gulf Coast region
The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program and the Tampa Bay Estuary Program (NEP) are assisting with coordination of a Southwest Florida Regional Ecosystem Restoration Plan. As a member of all three estuary programs, Manatee County is positioned to be a central partner in this effort. The Regional Plan has developed a prioritized list of environmental projects that would restore and protect the natural resources, ecosystems, water quality and coastal wetlands of Southwest Florida, consistent with the federally approved actions in the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plans (CCMPs) of each NEP and Gulf Ecosystem Restoration Strategic Plan goals. Manatee's projects prioritized under the Strategic Plan are attached.
The RESTORE Act directs and authorizes the use of funds stemming from the flow of civil penalties assessed to the BP Oil Spill for a number of uses, including "Infrastructure projects benefiting the economy of ecological resources, including port infrastructure" (bold emphasis added). The identification of port infrastructure as an authorized use in the RESTORE Act is virtually unique in that no other specific activity program or commercial sector was singled out in the more general statements of authorized uses of funding.
The Consortium has previously stated its' preference for projects of regional significance, including those which would combine similar activities of individual projects under a joint proposal which would bring benefit to the Gulf Coast economy as a whole. As a coastal county with a major port on the Gulf of Mexico, Manatee County is in a unique position to offer up a project to improve port infrastructure in conjunction with the five other major ports of Florida located along the Gulf Coast.
The staff at Port Manatee is working to develop an application for funds to provide infrastructure improvements at Port Manatee which provide much needed maintenance related improvements to existing docks and wharfs. It is generally recognized that similar maintenance needs exist among all of the Gulf Coast Ports and Manatee's application could be readily expanded with the consent of the other ports into a project proposal that would request funding for the maintenance needs of all coastal ports in Florida. Because these maintenance requirements provide upgrades to existing facilities and would not substantially increase or provide additional capacity, funding for such a regional based application would not necessarily provide a competitive advantage of one port over another and would normally be considered as "leveling the playing field" by providing needed maintenance funding to each port in accordance with its needs. (The application from Port Manatee is attached for reference.)
The RESTORE Act authorizes funding for the "Promotion of consumption of seafood harvested from the Gulf Coast Region" and funding for "Workforce development and job creation". The Cortez fishing community, nested within Manatee County, is unique along the Gulf Coast as a working waterfront, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and supports a vital component of Gulf Coast seafood products ranging from the production of mullet roe and mullet seafood products, stone crab and clam harvesting and a wide variety of consumable sport and commercial seafood products. The combination of outside influences upon the vitality of this community including the statewide net ban, increasing fishing pressure on consumable varieties of high quality seafood leading to over fishing and the subsequent depletion of fishing stocks and the negative connotations upon Gulf of Mexico seafood from the BP Oil Spill have combined to continually suppress the vitality of the commercial seafood industry of the Gulf.
A proposal has been received from the SunCoast Heritage Seafood Company whose principals include, Ed Chiles, of Anna Maria Island, Seth Cripe and Ted LaRoche for grant funding to be applied for seed and operating capital of a business venture with the following mission statement: SunCoast Heritage Seafoods is committed to sustainable harvesting of the region's heritage marine resources, conserving and protecting marine species and habitat, and generating a high level of public benefit through retained value products and good jobs. The project proposal focuses on providing an expanded opportunity for commercial processing of mullet roe in a value added production and marketing of a product known as Bottarga in the Mediterranean, and Kirasumi in Asia by expanding production capabilities already established here in the Cortez area by the Anna Maria Fish Company. (See attached). Also under consideration is providing capital for increased production and harvesting of the Sunray Venus clam which is native to these waters but never grown in sufficient numbers to sustain a viable commercial scale market. Finally, there are development markets worldwide for omega 3 fish oil products and there is interest in establishing such processing capabilities here in Southwest Florida taking advantage of the annual mullet harvest. Ed Chiles will be present to present the project proposal to the Commission. While the SunCoast Heritage Seafood proposal is project specific and still under development, it is important for the County to express to the Consortium its interest in prioritizing funding to support the viability of commercial seafood harvesting, processing and marketing, either singularly or in concert with other working waterfronts along the Gulf Coast of Florida.
County Attorney Review
Not Reviewed (No apparent legal issues)
Explanation of Other
Instructions to Board Records
Provide signed copy to Kay Rogers, Parks and Natural Resources (x6043, firstname.lastname@example.org) for transmittal to the Gulf Coast Consortium Executive Committee.
Cost and Funds Source Account Number and Name
Amount and Frequency of Recurring Costs
Attachment: Reqest for Vision Survey by 01-10-2014.pdf
Attachment: Manatee County's Summary of RESTORE Act Ecosystem Restoration Projects.pdf
Attachment: Application from Port Manatee.pdf
Attachment: Proposal from SunCoast Heritage Seafood Company.pdf
Attachment: Mullet Processing Article 08-14-2013.pdf
Attachment: Gulf Consortim letter.pdf