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Future of the Mile Point dredging project

8:57 PM, Jul 25, 2013   |    comments
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Currents too strong during certain hours of the day for ships to pass Mile Point where Intracoastal Waterway meets the St. Johns River.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Mile Point dredging project is important, JAXPORT officials say, because without it, ships can only move through the area 8 hours a day. Phase two of the deepening project would deepen the river to 47 feet, now 40.
The port said it means thousands of jobs for the city, local fisherman, but the St. Johns Riverkeeper is concerned about what it might do to the environment.

Charter fishing boat captain Vic Tyson has been fishing the St. Johns River for 56 years, since he was five years old. He knows a deeper river could mean more jobs at the port, but he is concerned that the deepening of the St. Johns River will damage too many breeding fish and hurt fisherman who make their living off the river.

"But it is going to end a lot of jobs if it changes the whole environmental part of the river," Tyson said. "If they go use any kind of demolition, they are going to kill crabs, the smaller fish, the spawning fish."

Tyson also said dredging could cause docks along the river to sink as it has in the past. Captain Kirk Waltz also is concerned that his livelihood would be in danger.

"It would be tough for me to see a lot of these fisheries hurt or decimated because we were blowing up the bottom of the river. That is one of my concerns, that it would affect my livelihood because we wouldn't catch too many fish," Waltz said.

St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman said efforts to rush the environmental study of the dredging project could be detrimental to the river.

"This fast tracking cuts the public out of the process and does not give us adequate time to evaluate and make sure this study is accurate," she said.

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