Don’t Spoil Our Treasures: Looking Back at Stories That Make a Difference in 2022

Miami-Dade County, Florida – The final 2022 issue of Don’t Break Our Treasure looks back at the most impactful stories of the past year.

Local 10 News’ ongoing mission for the franchise is to inspire and engage more South Floridians to care and make a difference in helping and saving our local environment.

Number 5

2021 is the deadliest year for Florida’s manatee population. More than 1,100 people died, most of them starving to death after losing their only source of food: seaweed.

Thousands of acres of seagrass have been lost due to human pollution.

“It’s heartbreaking that these animals are starving because they don’t have food,” said Tom Reinart, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regional director and manatee expert.

In February, Local 10 News first reported on the establishment of the FWC emergency feeding station in the intake channel of the Florida Power and Light Plant in Indian River Lagoon, where approximately 2,500 manatees gather each winter in search of warmer waters.

“Some animals did come in and start eating, and we believe the sound of them chewing the lettuce attracted other animals,” Reinart said.

Hungry manatees were fed 2,500 lbs. lettuce a day.

While the death toll recorded this year is lower, with 783 deaths so far, those who care for the tame creatures say the crisis is far from over.

No 4

More than 100 million sharks are killed each year around the world, and President Biden signed the landmark No Shark Fin Act last week, banning commercial trade in shark fins in the United States. It comes on the heels of increased protections for 54 species of sharks that governments around the world just passed in November.

But in South Florida, there is controversy.

“The state of shark populations around the world is definitely cause for concern,” said Diego Cardenosa, a shark researcher at Florida International University.

It was linked to a shark fishing contest off the coast of Palm Beach in July that ended in the deaths of 11 bull sharks.

Local anglers claim shark numbers have exploded in recent years and more and more sharks are stealing their catch.

“You lose 50 percent of the sharks we catch,” tournament organizer Robert Navarro said.

Scientists have refuted this claim, arguing that there are not more sharks in the water, but more boats. Florida now has a record breaking 1,000,000+ registered boats, so more shark interactions are bound to happen.

“I wouldn’t call it a shark boom,” says FIU marine biologist Yannis Papastamatiou. “Remember, these stocks have historically been overfished.”

number 3

From reckless charter boat crews tossing balloons into the Gulf waters at Coconut Grove Pier, to a man throwing a beer bottle at a surfer into Key Biscayne, to a group of litter bugs most recently in Biscayne National Park. The littering on the island was captured by the camera.

The videos shared with Local 10 News went viral and sparked outrage, but perhaps more importantly, they sparked action by law enforcement, who went after all polluters and held them accountable through arrests and fines.

The message is loud and clear: Environmental crime will not be tolerated.

“We were tipped because of Channel 10’s attention to this matter,” said the former interim Miami-Dade police chief. Jorge Perez. “This is yet another testament to the trust our community has in the police department … and we took immediate action.”

number 2

The summer of 2020 saw unprecedented fish kills in Biscayne Bay, when it lost more than 27,000 marine species, just two years later, at the end of October Happen once again.

While not as devastating as in 2020, a week later, over 4,000 lbs. Dead fish removed from the northern basin of Key Biscayne.

“It’s pollution from septic tanks, stormwater runoff, sewage leaks and fertilizers,” said Dr. Rachel Silverstein, executive director of Miami Waterkeeper. “However, we don’t yet understand the trigger for why the fish kill happened on this particular day of the week.”

number 1

In November, the Miami-Dade Commission approved a developer’s plan to expand the city’s development boundaries and convert farmland south of Miami-Dade into a new warehouse and commercial complex near Homestead, which land conservationists say is Critical to the restoration of the Florida Everglades and saving Key Biscayne.

“That’s the problem with this project, it was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Laura Reynolds of Hold the Line Colaition. “It’s never going to be the right project for the region.”

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava attempted to veto the measure, but with a supermajority vote, commissioners were able to override the veto and move forward with plans to move UDBs.

But not so fast.

Dr. Nita Lewis, a longtime Miami-Dade resident, has filed a legal challenge and asked the state to hold a formal hearing to review the board’s decision.

The Resolute Front coalition supports this challenge.

“We can’t let this continue,” Reynolds said. “And I think we need to reject that wholeheartedly.”

The fate of Key Biscayne, Florida Everglades restoration and South Miami-Dade agriculture all hang in the balance.

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