In coastal Florida, the development and maintenance of docks, marinas, and channels frequently cause destruction of seagrass beds. Seagrass loss is accompanied by a loss of the ecosystem services the beds provide, such as sediment stabilization, water filtration, protection from storms, and habitat and nursery grounds for fish species. The current legal framework for seagrass protection and the implementation of mitigation for seagrass loss could be improved. In this Article, the authors argue that policymakers could revise the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method to include more assessments related specifically to the ecology of seagrass beds and their ecosystem services. Seagrass mitigation is currently carried out by the permittee that applied to create or maintain the seagrass-impacting development. In comparison, wetland mitigation is typically carried out by publicly or privately operated mitigation banks. The creation of mitigation banks for seagrass restoration would streamline the process of seagrass mitigation and promote the public's interest in seagrass restoration.
Althea S. Hotaling, R. Benjamin Lingle & Thomas T. Ankersen, Comprehensive Seagrass Restoration Planning in Southwest Florida: Science, Law and Management, 4 Sea Grant L. & Pol'y J. 61 (2011), available at http://scholarship.law.ufl.edu/facultypub/690