In 1992, the elected officials participating in Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) adopted a goal of restoring seagrass to 1950s levels after decades of decline. Reaching this goal required collaboration from public and private participants in TBEP’s Nitrogen Management Consortium. Since 1992, local governments, industries, and citizens have implemented over 500 nutrient reduction projects throughout the watershed, resulting in water as clear as it was in 1950. In 2016, the bay had 41,655 acres of seagrasses, a recovery of almost 16,000 acres since 1992, and more than 1200 acres above 1950s levels. During this period, the Tampa Bay metropolitan area grew by more than 1M, to a total of 3M in 2016.
This nationally-recognized achievement happened as the region’s economy continues to grow and prosper. The Bay’s healthy ecosystem contributes 13%, or $22 billion, to the total economic activity over the 6-county Tampa Bay region. One in five jobs in the region is now directly dependent upon the Bay’s healthy state, as the Bay’s ecosystem recovery now provides clearer waters and improved ecological conditions over previous decades.