Agency on Bay Management
The Natural Resources Committee of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council
The Agency on Bay Management (ABM) remains the primary community organization focusing on the protection and management of the Tampa Bay estuary. This association of representatives from the recreational, commercial fisheries, industrial, regulatory, academic and scientific sectors, local, regional, state and federal governments, and legislators was instituted in 1985 to address issues and opportunities affecting the Bay. The Agency serves as a broad-based forum for open discussion of the myriad issues involving the estuary, and as a voice for protection, restoration and wise use of the Bay by the entire region.
Past accomplishments of the Agency on Bay Management include establishment of the Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) program statewide as an important tool in habitat restoration and stormwater quality improvement, and designation of the Sarasota Bay and Tampa Bay National Estuary Programs.
The Agency is active in public outreach efforts. The State of Tampa Bay Report was published annually between 1985 and 2001, a compilation of reports on the wide variety of activities, programs and issues of the previous year. This was prepared for the Florida Legislature, but was widely distributed to the public and served as a source for further contact with the various entities involved in Bay matters. Starting in 2002, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council replaced the State of Tampa Bay Report with a quarterly environmental journal-Tampa Bay Soundings. This journal is an independent publication geared to complete and objective reporting on the challenges, programs, and successes involving the Tampa Bay estuary, its watershed, and the regional natural resources. In July 2003 the name of the journal changed to Bay Soundings.
The Agency continues to support the efforts of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, which has developed a long-term restoration and management plan for the Bay; and the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s SWIM program, an important component of the region’s natural resource protection, restoration and management. These programs, as well as local initiatives to moderate the impacts of development, are resulting in significant improvements to the Tampa Bay estuary and the region’s other natural features.
Specific actions undertaken by the Agency at the request of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) include Bay Area Scientific Information Symposium (BASIS) 3 – Putting Our Knowledge to Work Symposium through BASIS 5 – Using Our Knowledge to Shape Our Future, a Manatee Protection Strategies Task Force, the Mitigation Criteria Working Group, and the Off-Road Vehicle Access Working Group. These efforts have resulted in recommendations to the Estuary Program on the issues raised in the CCMP. Other Actions adopted by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and the Agency on Bay Management, as part of implementing the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, have also taken place.
The Agency meets on the second Thursday of most months, usually alternating between a full Agency meeting and committee meetings. It is currently chaired by Ms. Barbara Sheen Todd, and City of Largo Mayor Woody Brown is the vice-chair.