Port Manatee is receiving a federal grant for $813,090, enabling advancement of multiple security-related enhancements, port officials said today [Thursday, July 2].
The latest award under the Port Security Grant Program of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency brings to more than $13 million the total federal grant support for Port Manatee security initiatives since 2005, according to David St. Pierre, Port Manatee’s director of public safety and security.
“Port Manatee is grateful to FEMA for the significant grant funding, which over the years has been critical in facilitating leading-edge safety and security throughout port land and neighboring waters,” St. Pierre said. “The most recent award, for 100 percent of the amount requested by Port Manatee, will be used to complete four vital endeavors.”
The $813,090 federal award for fiscal 2020, to be augmented by a 25 percent port match of $271,030, is to allow the port to:
- Update and expand the port’s video security and surveillance system;
- Replace about 2 1/2 miles of outdated fencing to bolster security along the port’s north perimeter;
- Procure and service upgraded radio communications equipment, making it compatible with the recently enhanced Manatee County emergency response system; and
- Replace the engine of the port’s shallow-water response vessel, which is crucial to enforcement of security zones, including in areas inhabited by seagrasses.
Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee’s executive director, noted that the port’s security needs continue to swell as it accommodates rising cargo volumes. In its fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2019, Port Manatee broke several records, including eclipsing 10 million tons of total cargo throughput for the first time in its 50-year history. “We’re greatly appreciative of the federal support for our efforts to protect critical port infrastructure from terrorism, enhance maritime domain awareness and improve portwide maritime security risk management at our fast-growing seaport,” Buqueras said.
Priscilla Whisenant Trace, chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority, added, “The Port Security Grant Program funding is integral to our ability to protect the people who work at the port and the assets of the port and its users, as well as the integrity of the overall supply chain.”
Located “Where Tampa Bay Meets the Gulf of Mexico,” Port Manatee is the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanded Panama Canal, with 10 40-foot-draft berths serving container, bulk, breakbulk, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The self-sustaining port generates more than $3.9 billion in annual economic impact while providing for more than 27,000 direct and indirect jobs, all without benefit of local property tax support.
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