The last few weeks have been exciting times for the Florida Ports Council, as our board of directors have elected a new slate of leaders to govern the organization over the next two years. Carlos Buqueras, Seaport Manatee Executive Director, was elected to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors, taking over the reins from outgoing Chair Jonathan Daniels, Port Everglades Chief Executive and Port Director.
During our recent annual meeting held in Palm Beach, we had the opportunity to thank Jonathan for his leadership over the last two years. From steering the Ports Council as we emerged from the pandemic, to navigating Florida’s seaports to secure a much larger market share of cargo activity, Jonathan’s governance and guidance was greatly appreciated.
The Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council also recently elected new governance leadership for the next two years. Port Panama City Executive Director Alex King will guide the FSTED council as it continues implementing seaport capital improvement projects to continue carrying out Florida’s economic development mission. Alex takes over from outgoing Chair Paul Anderson, Port Tampa Bay President/CEO.
We were pleased to present the Seaport Champion Award recently to Representative Karen Gonzalez Pittman, and to Kenyatta Lee, the former Florida Department of Transportation’s Chief of Modal Development. Both Rep. Pittman and Kenyatta have been true champions of Florida’s seaports, and we were proud to present the awards in conjunction with our annual meeting.
We recently received an alarming briefing that Florida is now the No. 1 dumping ground for illegal vaping products from China. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has warned in her public service announcements on this brewing crisis, that these products could contain deadly fentanyl.
I want to thank Donald Stakes, Executive Director, Mission Support Directorate, Office of Field Operations, of U.S. Customs and Broder Patrol, for bringing his team of seven (officers and investigators) to address this issue, and others, at our recent FPC Board of Directors meeting. I have no doubt, that one of their top priorities is stopping this deadly drug from entering our seaports, and their collaboration in this effort is essential.
We continue to be very concerned about new proposed Rice’s whale rules, and the overall impact it will have on Florida’s Gulf Coast seaports. Whereas the initial proposed rule would have targeted only Florida with a no nighttime travel ban in Gulf Coast waters, and reduced daytime travel to a dangerously slow 10 knots, it now appears the federal government is proposing to expand those restrictions from Florida to Texas, impacting the entire Gulf Coast region. We remain extremely engaged in this issue, and will keep you apprised of our next steps.
As summer travel season begins to come to a close, the reports on cruise activity at our cruising seaports has been phenomenal. Cruising is back, and back in full force, and Florida continues to rein as having the top cruising ports in the world (Port Canaveral, PortMiami and Port Everglades). The future is once again bright for this industry.
Thank you for your support of Florida’s seaports.