Last week the Florida House of Representatives passed an amended bill that, with Senate approval, would put the Port of Miami Deep Dredge project on the fast track to resumption after a state court put the project on hold for further review. “Environmentalists are furious,” wrote the New Times. “They argue that the amended bill is an attempt to steamroll over their objections and circumvent court hearings set for this summer.”
Indeed, environmentalists worry that the Deep Dredge, an effort to accommodate a new generation of super freighters, could spell ecological disaster for Biscayne Bay and its marine life, including the rare “super coral” that marine biologist Colin Foord discovered on Fisher Island over the summer.
In an effort to raise awareness about the issue, filmmakers Nick Ducassi and Jonathan David Kane have made a nearly-10-minute video piece called the “Battle for Biscayne Bay” (embedded above). Featuring beautiful imagery of the bay, interviews with prominent local environmentalists, and music by ANR, the video portrays the Deep Dredge as a potential catastrophe. Here is Ducassi on what drove him to make the video:
I was compelled to make the video after hearing about the proposed dredge project at a time when I was particularly sensitive to Miami’s BS waste of taxpayer dollars — because the Miami Marlins had just unwrapped their 500 million dollar taxpayer gift earlier last Summer.
After the hybrid coral’s discovery (which I found about via Beached Miami), and reading about it again in the New York Times and Miami Herald, I was pissed off and looking for a way to say something. Blanca Mesa, a local environmentalist, reached out to me about putting something together last-minute for the Environmental Film Festival–which the Society of Environmental Journalists would attend. I threw together the video in five days, shooting it in two with one of my former interns at Borscht, Jack Elder. It screened to journalists from across the world — much to my terror.
Soon after, Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, Tropical Audubon, and Dan Kipnis filed a lawsuit challenging the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protections issuance of a permit for the dredging. Alexis Segal of BBWK reached out to me and asked if we could do a longer version of the film. We jumped on it, I brought on Jonathan Kane, we reached out to MJ Hancock and Brian Robertson of ANR, who were amazingly generous in scoring the film for us with their music. Colin Foord gave us amazing footage he shot with a GoPro inside of Government Cut and a great interview — along with interviews of Dan Kipnis and Blanca Mesa — and here we are.
It’s about time Miami found out where two billion dollars is about to be sunk — into killing our bay for “phantom ships” that will probably never make it to our shoreline. Full Stop.
Of course, proponents of the Deep Dredge have a different take: They see the project as a job creator and an important step in Miami’s transformation into a 21st Century, global city. Promoting that view, here is the City of Miami’s video about Master Plan 2035, “the blueprint that will take PortMiami” — the port’s new branding — “to a new level.”
With the passage of the House bill last week, the Deep Dredge debate promises to pick up in volume and tension in the coming months. With that in mind, we put the question to our readers: Is the Deep Dredge a boondoggle and an environmental catastrophe waiting to happen, or is it an important part of Miami’s maturity into a global city?