Carlton Fields Jorden Burt Miami Shareholder Gary Pappas and Biscayne Waterkeeper Executive Director Dr. Rachel Silverstein gave a lecture to approximately 50 students at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science on November 20, 2014.
This special seminar, “Corals, the Endangered Species Act, and the Case of Port Miami,” provided students with the opportunity to learn more about environmental law in a real world aspect – as it relates to the Port Miami case and the Endangered Species Act.
Most recently, Miami-Dade Reef Guard Association secured an initial victory in an open Court hearing on October 23, 2014 against the United States Army Corps (USACE) which has failed to comply with specific Endangered Species Act (ESA) requirements as defined in the complaint filed on October 1, 2014.
On the eve of Reef Guard’s emergency injunction hearing before U.S. Southern District of Florida Magistrate John J. O’Sullivan, USACE agreed to pay the National Marine Fisheries Service to relocate up to 300 colonies of staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) currently being harmed by sedimentation caused by the dredging in the Port of Miami Deep Dredge Project. Staghorn coral is listed as a “threatened” species under the ESA, and the area of the dredging is listed as “critical habitat” for the coral under the ESA. Relocation efforts began on Monday, October 27.
In addition, at the conclusion of an evidentiary hearing on the motion before Magistrate O’Sullivan, USACE also committed to requiring its dredging contractor to implement procedures for the remainder of the project to minimize the amount of sediment caused by the dredging.
In a firm press release, Pappas shared: “This is a victory for our clients, for our community, and for the environment. While we have achieved our goal of the emergency injunction motion, we eagerly look forward to updates regarding the relocation of the coral which USACE has initiated on the date they said they would.”
USACE has undertaken the PortMiami Deep Dredge Project, deepening and widening the channel to accommodate larger cargo vessels as a result of the pending expansion of the Panama Canal. Since the project commenced in November 2013, The Corps’ dredging has resulted in harmful sedimentation that has damaged and destroyed populations of federally-endangered staghorn coral in and around the dredge sites. The dredging sedimentation also has damaged the coral’s designated critical habitat.