Sen. Jason Pizzo looks to tap into economic growth within Florida’s maritime industries

by | Jan 9, 2024

In an effort to bolster Florida’s maritime industries, Democrat Senator Jason Pizzo introduced two bills: Senate Bill 1756, mandating biennial evaluations of the state’s ‘blue economy’ to guide policy, and Senate Bill 1754, establishing the Office of the Blue Economy to promote sustainable maritime economic practices.

Democrat Senator Jason Pizzo introduced two bills ahead of the coming 202 Legislative Session to evaluate and promote Florida’s maritime industries.

Senate Bill 1756 proposes an amendment to the current practices of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research that would mandate biennial evaluations of the state’s ‘blue economy,’ starting January 1, 2025. The blue economy refers to the sustainable use of ocean and coastal resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystems.

The evaluations are expected to provide insights into the current economic contributions of sectors like shipyards, marinas, fishing, aquaculture, and tourism, and compare them with similar industries in other states. This assessment, due for its first report in 2026, aims to quantify the economic benefits of the blue economy, potentially guiding future policy decisions. Additionally, from 2026 onward, a more in-depth analysis of the blue economy’s overall economic benefits will be required, should the bill be ratified.

Complementing the measure, Senate Bill 1754 seeks the establishment of the Office of the Blue Economy within the Department of Commerce. The office’s primary role would be to connect ocean and coastal resources to economic development strategies and focus on research and development, technological innovation, and workforce training in sustainable maritime practices. Akin to how Space Florida serves the state’s aerospace industry, the Office of the Blue Economy would be tasked with promoting Florida nationally and internationally as a leader in sustainable maritime economic practices.

Last year, PortMiami set records in cargo handling, processing 1,098,322 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), marking the ninth consecutive year it has exceeded the one-million TEU mark. Biscayne Bay, where Port Miami is located, holds an annual economic impact valued at $64 billion, according to a report released by Miami-Dade County and the South Florida Water Management District. The updated numbers for 2023 detailed a contribution of $24 billion in income, support for 448,000 jobs, and a generation of $4 billion in tax revenue. The report additionally showed that Biscayne Bay contributed to 19 percent of Miami-Dade County’s economy, 9 percent of Southeast Florida’s, and 3 percent of Florida’s overall economic activity.

Broadly speaking, Florida’s sixteen seaports generated $117.6 billion in economic output in 2022, accounting for 13.3 percent of the state’s overall GDP, according to Mike Rubin, CEO and President of the Florida Ports Council. Florida’s ports received 112.5 million tons of cargo in 2022, an all-time high and a six percent increase compared to the year prior. An economic impact report also disclosed that cargo and cruise activities supported 900,000 direct and indirect jobs across the state. In 2022, the state’s seaports handled 4,310,054 TEUs, 26.1 million container tons, 22.4 million dry bulk tons, 54.8 million liquid bulk tons, 9.03 million breakbulk tons, 631,157 vehicles, and 10.7 million cruise passengers.

Florida’s cruise industry also reported positive economic activity, with the state claiming the world’s top three cruise homeports – the Port of Miami, Port Canaveral, and Port Everglades – and being home to the largest cruise ships in the world. Florida-based cruise activity’s direct expenditures generated 158,992 jobs, $8.1 billion in income across the state, and more than $9.0 billion in direct revenue for Florida businesses, with 11 million passengers in 2022.

Moreover, In 2022, Florida’s saltwater recreational fishing industry had a significant economic impact, valued at approximately $9.2 billion. Combined with freshwater fishing, the total economic contribution was around $13.8 billion.


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