An Unfavorable Tide

Global Warming, Coastal Habitats and Sportfishing in Florida provides the latest information about how sea-level rise from global warming would likely affect Florida’s coastal habitats, and the recreational saltwater fisheries the state is known for.

The National Wildlife Federation and Florida Wildlife Federation commissioned an independent researcher to study nine areas along Florida’s coast (including Pensacola Bay, Apalachicola Bay, Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor, Ten Thousand Islands, Florida Bay, Biscayne Bay, St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon) to see how the mid-range scenario of a 15-inch rise in average sea level during this century would affect coastal habitats.

Pensacola Bay | Apalachicola Bay | Tampa Bay | Charlotte Harbor | Ten Thousand Islands | Florida Bay | Biscayne Bay | St. Lucie | Indian River Lagoon

The study found that:

– Nearly 50 percent (about 22,956 acres) of critical saltmarsh and 84 percent of tidal flats at these sites would be lost.

– The area of dry land is projected to decrease by 14 percent

– Roughly 30 percent of ocean beaches and two-thirds of estuarine beaches would disappear

– The area of open-ocean is projected to increase by 64 percent.

– The area of estuarine water is projected to increase by 18 percent.

– Mangroves are expected to expand in some areas, increasing by 36 percent

– The area of brackish marsh is projected to increase more than 40-fold, mostly around Apalachicola, taking over much of the current hardwood swamp land.

In a state where fishing is an essential part of the economy–anglers spent $3.3 billion on saltwater recreational fishing in Florida in 2005, supporting nearly 60,000 jobs–global warming cannot be allowed to continue unabated.