The Marlins Park Saga, Illegal Fishing, And Are Plastic Bans Good For The Environment?
Miami’s tough relationship with the Miami Marlins. Why illegal fishing is having devastating effects on marine life. Do plastic bans actually work in favor of the environment?
On this Thursday, Feb 4th episode of Sundial:
The Marlins Park Saga
If you’ve lived in Miami at some point in the past decade or two, you’re probably familiar with the controversy surrounding Marlins Park. Essentially, it was paid for with more than $600 million taxpayer dollars.
The city agreed to pay for it — as long as the team’s then-owner shared in any profits he made from selling the team.
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“In 2008, Jeffrey Loria, the former owner of the Marlins, threatened to leave Miami if they didn't get a new stadium. The Major League Baseball president at the time, Bob Dupuy, put an ultimatum to [Miami-Dade] County saying, 'If you guys don't help finance a new stadium, you can kiss baseball in South Florida goodbye,'” said WLRN reporter Danny Rivero on Sundial.
When Loria sold the team in 2017 for $1.2 billion, he refused to share the money promised, claiming he lost money in the sale.
“He said because of that, he didn’t owe the county or the city any money on this. That is what led to the lawsuit with the county and the city saying, ‘Hold on. Like, there's no way that that math adds up. Like, we're clearly owed something.’ The taxpayers are owed something from this huge profit,” Rivero said.
This week a settlement was reached on that lawsuit filed by the county, but commissioners decided to delay voting on the proposed $4.2 million from settling the suit.
When you take a bite out of spicy tuna roll, or purchase salmon from your local supermarket, do you know if that fish was obtained illegally?
It’s nearly impossible to pinpoint just how much of that fish is coming from illegal sources, experts say. Marine ecosystems have been devastated by these unregulated markets and the practice of overfishing.
“Fish is the principal source of protein in the world. Lots of populations throughout the world only depend on fish and fish to survive. One of the most devastating impacts that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing has is that it takes away the only source of protein that many coastal communities have throughout the world,” said former Costa Rican president Luis Guillermo Solís on Sundial.
Solís is currently interim chair of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University. He was part of the university’s annual State of the World Conference this week, where he presented on the illegal fishing market.
He added that as a consumer, insisting that stores identify the source of the fish they’re selling, is a step in the right direction.
“Fishing has been determined as of the highest national security importance. This is very important in the Western Hemisphere. It's going to be fundamental because it will allow for greater degrees of collaboration between our countries,” Solís said.
Are Plastic Bans Good For The Environment?
Plastic pollution contributes to a lot of our environmental hardships. It harms wildlife, the ocean and it contributes to the climate crisis by emitting greenhouse gases.
But plastic is also practical, durable and cheap.
Florida has a state-level preemption that blocks local governments from banning single-use plastics.
“We need to ask companies to reduce the amount of plastic they are putting into the supply chain and find alternative ways to package and deliver their products,” said Catherine Uden, the South Florida campaign organizer for Oceana. “Often consumers are not even given a choice when they go to the stores.”
In January, state lawmakers Linda Stewart and Mike Grieco introduced a bill to change that preemption to allow local plastic bans. Some argue, though, that these bans are not the solution.
“There are legitimate and environmentally conscious reasons for why we use plastic,” said David Clement, with the Consumer Choice Center advocacy group.
“The differences between a glass container for something like baby food and a plastic container. It's about 33 percent better for the environment to have that product be in plastic because it's lighter. It's easier to get to your grocery shelf. It costs less in terms of fuel and emissions,” Clement said.
Clement recently penned an op-ed in the Miami Herald saying that extending the lifespan of plastics by building better infrastructure for recycling would be a better option.
Recycling, as it is now, has not been effective — less than 10 percent all plastic waste has been recycled.
“It's like going into your house and seeing your sink overflowing and instead of turning off the tap, then just grabbing them up and trying to mop up the floor,” said local advocate Andrew Otazo. He spends his time cleaning up plastic trash from South Florida’s waterways.