Turtle grass with GFA algae growing can be seen in the shallow waters between the mangroves in the St. Martin’s Marsh Aquatic Preserve on May 14, 2019 in Crystal River. Photo via Charlie Shoemaker for The PEW Charitable Trust

FL - Governor signs bill designating Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve

The last time the state created one was 32 years ago.

Florida just approved its first new aquatic preserve in three decades.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed legislation (HB 1061) designating the Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve. The boundaries span 800 square miles off the coast of Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties.

Florida Aquatic Preserve Act of 1975 protections should ensure no utility infrastructure or pollution get dumped into the area. This is Florida’s 42nd aquatic preserve.

That’s important to protect some 400,000 acres of seagrass in the new preserve, which provides a valuable ecosystem for manatees and other sea life.

The Pew Charitable Trusts said this preserve provides a particularly important environment for approximately 70% of the species fishermen target in Florida, including redfish, grouper and tarpon. The area also serves as home to sea turtles, scallops, crabs and shrimp.

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