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Water: Estuaries and Coastal Watersheds

Sarasota Bay (NEP Profile)

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Summary Information

Year Established: 1988
Location: Florida
Area of Watershed: 733 square kilometers

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Overviews and Highlights

Much of Sarasota Bay's habitat for young fish was destroyed as the natural, mangrove shoreline was replaced by concrete sea walls during development of waterfront communities. As a result, the Sarasota Bay Program, in addition to wetland restoration, is embarking on an artifical habitat enhancement strategy to increase it's young fish population and overalll fishery production. Since most of those sea walls cannot be removed without causing severe damage to homes, a project by the Sarasota Bay NEP may turn those sea walls in to an asset for the bay, rather than a liability. Four different styles of small artificial reefs attached to sea walls are being tested for their ability to provide a home for young fish. Early results show more than 400 young fish living near the reefs. Only a few young fish have been seen in similar areas without reefs. The Comprehensive and Conservation Management Plan (CCMP) encompasses several approaches: Reforming seawalls, shoreline softening, bay bottom improvements and channel markers as habitat. Different styles of artificial modules and engineering options will be utilized along with baseline and follow-up monitoring studies.

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