MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. — Business owners and local groups banded together on Tuesday to promote cleaner waterways in the Tampa Bay area by installing artificial reefs around docks at John’s Pass.
“The water is our economy, and without a clean, healthy waterway and waterborne ecosystem, we don’t have an economy,” said Capt. Dylan Hubbard, the owner of Hubbard’s Marina. “Our coastal communities depend on these clean waters and beautiful beaches for our tourism and for most everyone’s job is somehow related to the tourism industry.”
At John’s Pass, business owners like Hubbard are passionate about the cause. On Tuesday afternoon, in partnership with several groups like the Eco Preservation Project, Capt. Planet, and St. Pete Fishing Outfitters, they installed two artificial reefs around docks at Hubbard's Marina.
“As we develop our shorelines, we harden the shorelines by creating seawalls and by removing mangrove shorelines that were once lining our shores,” said Hubbard. “Also with the recent outbreaks of red tide and all the pollutants that have been going into the water as of late, we’ve seen a huge decrease in our natural grass beds.”
Over time, Hubbard explains the artificial reefs get caked with grasses, barnacles, oysters, and small corals that all promote filtration of the local and surrounding water. He says their goal is to have every dock have the artificial reef structures underneath, which he says promotes softened shorelines, filtering more water, and keeping the waterway clear.
“That way if we do have a red tide outbreak or we do have some pollutants that enter the waterways, these filtration systems will then naturally clean those systems up, and then hopefully, if we do have a red tide, it wouldn’t last as long, it wouldn’t be as concentrated,” said Hubbard.
Hubbard hopes this is just the first of many installs, while they also look for more places around the area to install more artificial reefs.
“If anybody owns a home on the water and they don’t mind one of these artificial reefs installed underneath their dock, it’s a great way to clean millions of gallons of water per month and help keep our waterways clear and promote a better water quality,” said Hubbard.