Is Miami’s New Chief Bay Officer Position Worth It?

Chief Bay Officer Irela Bagué

Chief Bay Officer Irela Bagué

Gabriela Danger, Opinion Editor

Recently, a new position has opened in our local government. Made for the purpose of helping with recent environmental issues concerning Biscayne Bay, it is called the Chief Bay Officer position. Mayor Levine Cava employed Irela Bagué to fill the role.

Bagué has over 20 years of experience working in the State of Florida. She and her old company specialized in environmental issues. Her biggest job will be acting as a liaison between departments, boards, agencies, and other institutions that may pose a significant threat to the fragile state of Biscayne Bay. The hope is that her new position will call much needed attention to the issues there.

This position is long overdue. The bay in Biscayne is currently undergoing an environmental crisis, and not many have stepped up to help it. The fact that Mayor Levine Cava and Bagué felt strongly enough about the issue to open a position is both phenomenal and heartening. Their work can create a better and healthier environment for all those living in or near the Biscayne Bay area.

Some people may feel the opening of this position is a waste of money. After all, it is taxpayer dollars going to pay Bagué. It’s true that there are other positions meant to help the environment, but Biscayne Bay is a special case because it is a particularly delicate ecosystem.

The area has been in distress for quite some time. A recent algae bloom in the area caused by an influx of sewage from surrounding buildings has caused a severe decrease in the population of local fish. They were, and still are, dying at an alarmingly fast rate. Some kinds of fish that are experiencing the brunt of this disaster are pufferfish, barracudas, and parrotfish.

Some would argue that this isn’t the end of the world. However, the decrease in marine biodiversity would be a tragic loss for the beautiful and unique Florida ecosystems. It would burden waste companies to constantly be cleaning up deceased marine organisms, not to mention this unsightly display would deter tourists, which are a necessity to our economy of our city. The algae bloom caused the water to have less oxygen, causing fish and other organisms to swim too close to the surface to breathe.

The blooms went on for about a week, killing thousands of fish each time. At the time, small agencies and other environmental corporations like Miami Waterkeeper did as much as they could to find short term solutions.

That is why a position like this one needed to be created. With Bagué as the first and new Bay Officer, more attention will be given to the issue, which might open the door for a long term, effective solution to this crisis.

“Every time the bay gets back to normal, people go on to to other things.” Bagué remarked on the fluctuating state of the bay. She is right, because without proper management, it is impossible to do anything impactful in favor of the bay.

Because of this new and vital position, Irela Bagué will be able to defend our bays. On the issue, she said “There’s not one direct source… so we have to attack them systematically.”

Before Bagué was employed, efforts to help the bay went unnoticed and unplanned. Mayor Levine Cava and she are inspiring many by opening this important position. With her help and her oversight, the bay can be treated and restored soon and be given the attention it deserves.

I personally care very deeply for the environment. As a student, there isn’t usually much that I can do to help things. However, the opening of the Bay Officer position gives me faith that people will start paying attention to issues like algae blooms and oil spills in our own Miami area. Bagué and all her efforts will be appreciated by me, and by many others with concern for the well being of our beautiful Biscayne Bay.