After a three-year campaign, the Clean Ocean Act passed with tremendous support. In so doing, the Surfrider Foundation's Florida chapters have achieved a major milestone in their mission to preserving the diversity and ecological integrity of Florida's coastal environment and healthier waters.
The law requires owners and operators of day-cruise gambling vessels to implement sewage and other wastewater pump-out systems at ports, or adopt closed-loop system technology just as the cruise ships largely have begun doing.
While restrictions in Federal Maritime Law state that Florida cannot enact legislation banning sewage dumping from these vessels when they are beyond 3 miles from the east coast and 9 miles from the west coast of the State, the bill does lay a framework in which Florida can ensure coastal consistency and petition the Federal government to extend sewage dumping restrictions into Federal waters.
Senate Sponsor Mike Haridopolos and House Sponsor Stan Mayfield embraced their constituents wishes for action and the need for stronger coastal stewardship. Senate and House committee meetings regarding the Clean Ocean Act showed that gambling ships having the capacity to dump 44 million gallons of partially treated grey and black water (sewage) off Florida's coast every year.
"We are elated to have the Legislature's support and would also like to thank our sponsors and co-sponsors for their tireless efforts," said Surfrider Foundation - Sebastian Inlet Chapter Chair Sebastian Aravena.
"Supporters have logged countless volunteer hours on this campaign over the last three years," said co-sponsor Representative Tony Sasso, who had worked on this campaign as a Surfrider member prior to his election. "This decision was an incredible affirmation for our efforts, and a testament to the power of mobilizing grassroots activism."
The Surfrider Foundation will continue to direct its efforts till end of session this week toward similar coastal and ocean protection legislation regarding the closure of South Florida outfalls and also inlet and beach management.