Cooperatove Conservation Project

Agency on Bay Management

Willingness to Work Together Overcomes Obstacles

Location: Southeastern Region: Florida

Project Summary: The Agency on Bay Management (ABM) is a 20-year collaboration of resource stakeholders focused on the wise management of Tampa Bay.
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Three lined ponds and one partially lined pond are situated atop the Piney Point phosphogypsum stack ponds. (Photo Credit: FL Dept. of Envionmental Protection)
Resource Challenge
Throughout the late 1970s, untreated sewage discharge, rampant dredge-fill to create developable waterfront, and unregulated  industrial activity destroyed more than 50 percent of Tampa  Bay’s natural shoreline and severely degraded its aquatic habitats.  The industrial, municipal, conservation, and fisheries-dependent  communities were widely polarized, with no existing mechanism to  bring the disparate interests together to address resource problems 
Examples of Key Partners
The counties and cities bordering Tampa Bay; four regional, fi ve state, and four federal agencies; three port authorities; four nonprofi t  environmental, recreation, and conservation groups; eight industrial  and commercial users of Tampa Bay; and three research institutions 
Results and Accomplishments
The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council established the Agency  on Bay Management (ABM) in 1985 as the primary organization  committed to managing the Tampa Bay estuary. It provides a broad  based forum for discussing the myriad issues involving the estuary  and advocates for Bay restoration. Sound science and economics meet  in consensus-based recommendations that are dramatically improving habitat and water quality while supporting a thriving economy. The ABM achievements include:
  • Established the Piney Point Task Force to help the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) manage an abandoned phosphogypsum operation that was contributing nutrient-laden acidic process water.
  • Conceived the highly successful statewide Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) program, completing 59 habitat restoration and stormwater quality projects that restored 1,600 acres of coastal habitat and significantly improved the Bay’s seagrass habitat and water quality.
  • Formed the Manatee Protection Strategies Task Force, generating management recommendations that were later incorporated into boating regulations and voluntary protection measures.
  • Organized and produced the 1991 Proceedings of the Bay Area Scientific Information Symposium (BASIS 2), using information collected about the Tampa Bay Watershed, and put together the 1996 BASIS 3 proceedings, discussing research to protect, restore, and manage the bay’s estuary.
  • Produced the annual State of Tampa Bay report for the public for 16 years, recently replaced by Bay Soundings, an independent quarterly publication dedicated to reporting the challenges, programs, and successes in the Tampa Bay estuary and its watershed 

Created a single forum for constructive dialogue to regularly address bay-wide problems and gain buy-in on solutions. The 20-year commitment to ABM participation is a striking testament to the importance of collaborative management to all involved parties.

Project Contact
Suzanne Cooper
Principal Planner
Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council

727-570-5151 x 32


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