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  • Writer's pictureDave LeGear

Project Restore - Natural Stock Enhancement Plan

Trimmed mangroves along seawall

Continuing along with our tagline of the "No Fish/No Florida" series of articles and as a natural extension and next step from our other targeted article on "The need for low-impact coastal development!" Flats Nation, along with our friends at Mighty Mangroves, have discussed some ways we will present here, to help naturally enhance our gamefish stocks which at last reporting is now worth 9.2 plus Billion dollars annually here in Florida alone!

Some history and impacts from habitat loss.

  • Since Juan Ponce De Leon arrived in what he called La Florida (which is why we say that ship sailed long ago) now over 500 years. Coastal development has played an increasing role in the loss of significant, if not critical, nurseries for all of our Inshore Gamefish and many of our Offshore species at the same time.

  • And more recently (say since the 1920s), land development in Florida has seen surges in volume to the point that, as reported, Florida is (now) taking in 1000 new residents a day. Some say that only 1000 people signed the lease or mortgage paperwork, not all their family members, who also need water to drink and flush a toilet.

  • Either way, that is quite a growing population, and again, many of them have never seen a Major Hurricane or the impacts one could have when they do arrive every so many decades, which can make a mess of things (including and primarily barren) now missing man-made seawalls.

Post Hurricane seawall/road damange

  • I am not saying we should not have any development (it is impossible to stop at this point); this is a simple observation. What we do need is to keep what we still have left as fish nurseries while working to restore areas that have been (basically) stripped of any native plants, mostly mangrove species of trees and other underwater fish-holding structures.

Our idea and what we will propose to our great conservation groups to help build an incoming tide of support in Tallahassee, other States, and beyond since we have readers from all over the World here on The Nation.

For new developments on the water...

  • Encourage (more about how we do this later) the employment of "Buffer Zones" of native plants (Mangroves) left on and trimmed to shrub level (below the current mandate of 6 feet from the substrate) so as not to block views in areas without seawalls constructed. Something is better than nothing!

  • For those properties that are building seawalls during or after construction. Encourage the use of Reef Balls along the seawalls and pending tidal height along the same seawalls, and employ Reef systems that would allow Mangroves to be planted on top of them. Here is an idea from the University of Miami that is part of their SEAHIVE system, which looks great (see below). However, I suspect that the hollow construction method, with much less installation costs, would put it out of reach of some commercial and most residential waterfront property owners.

D. Jalfon / University of Miami
D. Jalfon / University of Miami
Gallo Herbert Architects
Gallo Herbert Architects
  • And, again, allow shrub level trimming if needed (something is better than nothing) so long as those plants can thrive, and quite sure we have some experts in Florida who could advise us on those minimal levels and then make that a Statewide code ruling. If not on a Statewide level, then various counties will make it even more complicated than needed.

Lower mangroves
Lower Mangrove levels and it would be nice to see them extended all the way to the lift if possible.
  • Then install away or opposite of the prop blast, Reef Ball type of systems built as part of those new docks and catwalks (most are just devoid of life other than what is getting attached to the pilings) to have and house even more sea life.


This is so the mostly smaller bait and gamefish can grow up under them that once were, many years ago, mangrove shorelines with tons of little places for them to all hide.

For past developments on the water...

The significant difference between New and Present developments is (mostly) the use of reef ball sizes in front of seawalls that are not actively used. Just as importantly, if not more so, the ability of waterfront property owners or conservation groups to manually install them under preset catwalks and dock structures.

What I mean by smaller is easier to move/pitch under the dock without cranes on barges to put them into place. If the homeowner or conservation group cannot work with them on a pretty much manual level, project adoption will not happen.

Smaller Oyster Reef Ball size from Reef Innovatios
Smaller Oyster Reef Ball size from Reef Innovations
Smaller Reef Ball already holding coral.

What we would like to see with these Reef Ball designs is threefold.

  1. Fully open design versions (as seen above) so larger fish like your favorite pet Sea Trout, Snook, etc., have a place to run into and hide from Flipper, who has a bad habit of running seawalls at high speed while taking out unprotected fish that feel safe and secure around those cool underwater lights you have.

  2. Mixed in with others in the same grouping those that have wire mesh on those holes so smaller fish can run in and hide from the larger fish. Think nursery concept here so more sizes can live to larger more survival sizes.

Gallo Herbert Architects
Gallo Herbert Architects

3. Put into the mix, if possible, some past Oyster shells since I was advised that adding it to the concrete attracts them quicker and better coverage once placed into the water.

Again, the main purpose of this entire project is to provide/replace as many square miles of fish nurseries we have already lost, yet we are trying to feed and support a 9.2 plus Billion dollar recreational saltwater industry here in Florida (alone) at the same time. Water quality will also improve as the bottom growth (Barnacles and Oysters) will help scrub it while feeding.


Now some will say this all sounds great, Dave, but how do we Encourage these property owners (both Commercial and Residential) to become involved and part of the solution all while adding back to our Ecosystems and Economy at the same time? Glad you asked, and consider these ways and remember, we are already spending money to raise fish in ponds where they swim in circles (like a NASCAR race) all day which is way I suspect the data in some cases is showing they stay within a mile of their release points. And on other efforts (some effective, some not) while we are missing the obvious.

Releasing Redfish

As denoted in our first article on The need for low-impact coastal development! lets loop back to those two concepts first touched on there, while understanding just how much of an economic driver in just Florida, much less the other coastal States and other coastal Countries at the same time! And not that these ideas will apply across the board to all locals, but ideas to consider (think fish holding structures) when we look at this in the most important and hard hitting aspect as possible, hard currency (the real green deal) going back into the system and providing jobs!

  1. The fastest way I know how to spur such an effort for those landowners, is to issue property Tax Breaks (what a concept) to purchase and install this type of ecosystem improvement. Basically (and, lets not make it into anther life sucking bureaucracy) what is spent, is a write off... Plain and Simple (though could grow to a grand scale when combined) this is small scale Aquaculture (fish farming) for a massive saltwater recreational fishing Industry just in Florida alone. And with a 9.2 Billion Dollar Industry at stake, you are not loosing any tax revenues and actually gaining them! This for as a friend of mine says so well "Without Fishing, Florida is just a big sand bar!"

  2. Secure support from property insurance companies to spend less on (green lizard) type TV ads every 15 minutes! This, and use some of those marketing funds into efforts on policy holder renewal breaks to (also) help them, save from replacing land/seawalls or worse later when the next Cat 3 or higher Hurricane slams into them. This by having some mangroves or other underwater structures in place help defuse parts of the wave action. According to NOAA (yes, as always, consider the source), a healthy coral reef can absorb 97% of the wave energy from storms and hurricanes, helping protect people and property. We can easily add a layer and the employ the same defense mechanism, by adding these concepts to our now (pretty much barren) seawalls and docks throughout our State. Then multiply that same system even further out to other States and other Coastal Nations, and I think you will start to get the larger collective picture and value.

What is that old commercial saying that goes "You can spend a little now, or a lot later" by getting Insurance companies (and their shareholders) involved in the fight! And someone please raise their hand IF they feel they are not paying enough for insurance? Thought so...

Now, none of these concepts will work though without the private sector businesses becoming involved! We must be logical here, and understand that none of these materials are going to get produced at the levels needed when you have a State that has 1350 miles of coastline, without their involvement in producing them. We need both established and new companies (new jobs) formed in the making of and moving these supplies to various deployment locations. I can also envision the recycling of used building and other materials (like PVC pipe and others) I suspect that are now going to landfills or incinerates and those burnt materials getting pumped into our atmosphere, that could be put to better Aquaculture uses.

solid waste incinerator

We need to work on ways to do this and look at all of it on the simple concept of ROI (Return on Investment) aspect for those same dollars spent. What we are spending on raising fish or other Marketing efforts by others, that we could put back into our depleted coastal ecosystems, that (may) be better spent OR work in concert with the development of more natural habitat installed along the many miles of commercial and residential waterfront properties that are now just barren, storm prone, docks and seawalls...

Overall and again, I am reminded of the saying, "maximum utilization of minimal space" when it comes to improving our coastal ecosystems both before and even after development has occurred. This to help us maintain and bring back more effective ways to both protect these spaces and grow out that next trophy gamefish we all are looking to pick a fight with! 😎

Trapon crashing baitfish

Thanks for your past and present input on these efforts and series of articles! And send this to your local representatives and conservation groups (like we are) to help with spreading the message like Captain Mike and myself discuss on this Flats Nation Sound Bite.

We, the Sportsman, are the majority, and we (already) produce a ton of revenue and value for this State and Nation as a whole. Time we made our collective voices heard and help restore the ecosystem that swings a Big Monetary Bat, and remember... No Fish, No Florida! 

No Fish/No Florida Tee shirt

In the meantime,

  • We invite you to take in a few Flats Nation Podcast Episodes to help "Scratch that Fishing Itch" when working or traveling and you cannot hitch up the Skiff and go, on these links:

  • Our newer Flats Nation YouTube Channel can be found by clicking here. Share our media with family and friends if you find them entertaining and educational! We have some great guests in the works on a wide range of topics and product coverage soon.

  • Or our new Media section that we created with our latest website release, where you can hear all of our Podcasts, Sound Bites, and Flats Nation Updates all in one listing found by clicking Here:

Also, The "Flats Nation" Merch and Swag collection, if you like our content, has some new works, from T-shirts to our newer Technical wear, just in time for Tarpon Season and will need for a trip to say, Aruba, can be found Here:

And for those who may not realize such, yes, you can advertise on The Nation, listen below to find out how to reach us.

Tight Lines, and God Bless!

Dave and the Team

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