Court Awards Everglades National Park $295,000 in damages for Vessel Grounding Case
Contact: Linda Friar, 305-242-7714
A civil lawsuit between the United States and Mr. David E. Marlow was recently settled with Mr. Marlow agreeing to compensate Everglades National Park for damages caused by his vessel running aground in Florida Bay. Mr. Marlow agreed to pay $295,000 in the suit filed by the United States Department of Justice on behalf of Everglades National Park.
On February 13, 2006, Mr. Marlowe was operating his 72-foot vessel, the "Rebel Yell", enroute from Snead Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast to Miami. The vessel ran aground on Arsenic Bank in the southwestern portion of Florida Bay in Everglades National Park. Attempts to power the vessel off the shoal resulted in significant damage to the seagrass environment on the shallow bank. This resource damage is significant for this national park, charged with resource protection, as the seagrass beds serve as nurseries for lobster, crabs, shrimp and other recreational and commercially important fish and invertebrates.
The lawsuit was filed under the "Park System Resource Protection Act", which allows the National Park Service to seek compensation for injuries to park resources and use the recovered funds to restore and monitor such resources. Everglades National Park will engage in a dynamic restoration program at this site which will include filling in the large holes and planting seagrass.
"I’m very pleased that the Rebel Yell case has now been settled and that the Park has secured funding to carry out necessary seagrass restoration measures in response to this significant grounding", said Park Superintendent Dan Kimball.
Florida Bay encompasses approximately 300,000 acres of the 1.5 million acres within Everglades National Park. The entire bay bottom was designated as "wilderness" by Congress in 1978. It is included in the 1.3 million acre Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness. The park has identified significant damage to seagrassbeds by motorboat propellers. These damages impact wilderness character so the park is developing a seagrass restoration program as well as managementstrategies intended to reduce future impacts for inclusion in the park’s General Management Plan.
Park Rangers will continue their efforts to educate visitors on ways to minimize their impact on the bay bottom, as well as responding to grounded vessels and taking appropriate legal action for damage to park.