After many months of debate and a determined effort by pro-cruise ship business interests to sway voters, Key West voted down expanded dredging of the island’s harbor–a natural refuge for migrating tarpon and other species. Previous dredging of the harbor to accommodate giant cruise ships has been tied to loss of habitat and disruption of fish behavior.
The Key West Chamber of Commerce proposed spending $3 million to study widening the channel, despite the fact that the National Marine Sanctuary established there in 1990 does not permit the type of dredging they’re seeking. Many current and former residents of Key West already criticize the close ties between the cruise ship industry and local politicians for driving the city toward dependence on a “cruise ship economy.”
Will Benson’s “Silver Lining,” released this past spring, documents many of the concerns expressed by anglers and environmentalists over the impact of continued harbor dredging, which many say has already hurt the fishery.