After banner year, Florida Ports Council announces new leaders

by | Aug 8, 2023

  • Carlos Buqueras, with extensive maritime expertise and previous experience at Port Manatee, has been appointed as Chairman of the Florida Ports Council (FPC), amidst a surge in international trade across the state’s ports.
  • FPC’s leadership team is completed with Hydi Webb as Vice Chair and David Wirth retaining the position of Secretary/Treasurer. Mike Rubin continues as CEO.
  • Florida’s cruise and cargo industry is thriving, with the state hosting the world’s top three cruise homeports and handling a record high of 112.5 million tons of cargo in 2022.

With three decades of maritime expertise, including a recent stint at Port Manatee at the entrance of Tampa Bay, Carlos Buqueras has been chosen as chairman of the Florida Ports Council (FPC), which serves as the professional association for Florida’s public seaports and their management. FPC is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of 16 port directors with staff support located in Tallahassee. The statewide leadership stint comes amid a surge in international trade across the state’s ports as cargo and passenger traffic spiked last year.

FPC also announced two more names on Tuesday to round out Buqueras’s leadership team: Hydi Webb, a maritime industry expert with almost 30 years of experience, will serve as the FPC’s Vice Chair, while David Wirth will retain his position as Secretary/Treasurer for the FPC Board of Directors. Mike Rubin remains as CEO.

Buqueras, takes the new role as Florida’s cruise and cargo industry has been thriving. Florida is home to the world’s top three cruise homeports, hosting 11 million passengers in 2022. At the same time, Florida’s cargo seaports handled a record high of 112.5 million tons of cargo in 2022, a 6 percent increase from the previous year, supporting 900,000 direct and indirect jobs, while generating $117.6 billion in economic value, and 13.3 percent of Florida’s GDP.

Buqueras’s brings ample experience to the role. He took the helm at Manatee County’s seaport in 2012, following 22 years as director of business development at Port Everglades, in South Florida’s Broward County.

“I’m truly honored that my fellow port directors have placed their confidence in me to serve for the next two years as chairman of the Florida Ports Council at a time when international trade is enjoying significant growth throughout Florida,” said Buqueras. “As the populations of Florida and the entire U.S. Southeast continue to swell, it is increasingly essential that seaport infrastructure expand to efficiently meet demands for consumer goods and other vital cargos. I look forward to working with my fellow port directors in ensuring we collectively thrive as gateways for burgeoning commerce.”

Currently, as the Port Director at Port Miami, Hydi Webb has overseen its ascent as one of the globe’s top cruise ports.  It’s among the largest economic engines in Miami-Dade County and the state of Florida, posting growth of approximately 73 percent in 2022 operating revenues from $99.4 million in 2021 to $172.4 million in 2022.

“Florida’s seaports are seeing record cargo activity and showing the world that our reliable and resilient ports are ready for more. As Florida looks to seize even more cargo and cruise market share, Carlos Buqueras, Hydi Webb and David Wirth are the right leaders to help advance this strong economic engine,” said Mike Rubin, President and CEO, Florida Ports Council in a release announcing the new leaders.


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