After Miami-Dade marina closing, coastal cities ponder future threats

On Sunday, Miami Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez closed county marinas. The order, which followed reports of boats congregating on Haulover Beach, focused attention on the area’s marina, the county’s ability to control them and their future.

In fact, marinas all over the country are facing problems. The Association of Marina Industries recently met to discuss these issues, their causes, and some solutions.

Virginia Congressman Rob Wittman, a Republican who represents an area outside Washington, D.C., spoke on how many problems surrounding marinas both on lakes and oceans are caused by climate change.

“It’s incredibly important for us to look at sustainability in our coastal communities, the marine trades are incredibly important for our communities,” he said. “Climate change is real. What we’re seeing happening in coastal communities is real.”

Wittman cited the geological phenomenon called subsidence which, according to the National Ocean Service, is the gradual settling or sudden sinking of the Earth’s surface. He said coastal  communities are vulnerable to tides

These communities want to focus on bouncing back after flooding, hurricanes, or coastal storms. Wittman mentioned that marshes, allow for some resiliency in coastal areas.

“The question is, can marshes adapt at the same pace as we are seeing changes in sea level?” said Wittman. “I think they can, but the key is how do we address that?”

Another question is energy use, he said. “Let’s conserve more energy,” he said. “Let’s look at renewable sources.”

President of the Midwest Marina Association, Rick Chapman, spoke on why it’s important to conserve and protect marinas. “We all want to be the best possible stewards of the waterways that we boat on and that we earn our livelihoods from.” he said.

Chapman said both commercial and recreational boating industries rely on the public recognizing and feeling confident that their boating activities are safe. Infrastructure dates to the 1950s.  Chapman argues highways would never be left without upkeep.

“Recreational boating is a lifestyle,” said Chapman, “and that lifestyle cannot exist without the continuous maintenance.

President of the Virginia Marine Trades Association, Jimmy Mackey, runs a marina that is completely operated by volunteers. He and Chapman both have seen the physical effects of climate change and debris on their marinas and communities.

“The Potomac River was loaded with debris last season, and we saw the impact,” said Mackey, “boats were not coming out to the bay, they weren’t coming in our marina, so it’s something to keep in mind.”

Of course, coronavirus has put a hold on all other concerns. Social media video of dozens of boats gathering in Haulover sent a ripple effect that ended with the closing of marinas.

“I am disappointed to see photos and videos on social media of boats close together and large groups of people congregating,” Gimenez wrote in a statement. “[It] is truly disheartening, but mostly worrisome.”

Caplin News Contributor

Sabrina was born in Venezuela, and has lived in South Florida since she was 3 years old. Her major is broadcast media, and her dream is to be an entertainment on-air talent.