Community & Environment


Port Manatee supports and serves its community in a variety of ways – working on local projects and offering various public outreach programs to educate people about the port.

The port adds more than $2.3 billion annually in regional economic impact and supports more than 24,000 jobs.

Public Tours

The public is invited to get a behind-the-scenes look at Port Manatee through the port’s award-winning Public Tours.


Port Manatee staff members are available to speak to community groups on a variety of topics including the port’s current and future projects, economic impact and more.

Request a Speaker for your group and a member of the Port Manatee Administration Department will contact you to verify a topic, date and time. For more information, call Port Manatee at (941) 722-6621.


Authorized boating and fishing are allowed in the waters around Port Manatee through the Manbirtee Key Zone Watch Program.


Port Manatee takes pride in protecting the environment in and around Port Manatee. Port operations are guided by the Manatee County Port Authority’s mission statement, which in part states, "conducting maritime-related activities in a profitable and environmentally responsible manner."

All projects at the port are conducted with a commitment to the environment – to ensuring the ecosystem surrounding the port is not only maintained, but thrives. A proactive environmental approach has resulted in the port exceeding environmental compliance goals.

Port Manatee has earned many environmental awards.

Seagrass Mitigation

The Manatee County Port Authority is committed to protecting and enhancing Tampa Bay’s pristine ecosystem. The port’s groundbreaking seagrass mitigation program and award-winning Manbirtee Key bird sanctuary prove that nature and ports can coexist.

Drawing from a donor bed of 5.33 acres lying in the path of proposed expansion dredging, 25 acres of new seagrass meadows now flourish in Tampa Bay waters adjacent to Port Manatee. Beginning in 2001, scientists carefully transplanted the seagrass to locations scarred by years of propeller driven recreational boats traversing shallow bay waters. With a 400-acre environmental management area in place to protect the habitat from further scarring, seagrass now grows unimpeded.

For the previous 30 years, seagrass transplantation was largely considered experimental, meeting with varying degrees of success around the world. The project’s size and overwhelming success attracted global attention and earned several honors, including the 2006 Gulf Guardian Award from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf of Mexico Program. The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) also selected the project as the Western Hemisphere’s top environmental program in 2006.

The seagrass program award marked the second time in three years a Port Manatee environmental mitigation program was honored by the AAPA.

Manbirtee Key Bird Sanctuary

The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) chose the port’s 60-acre spoil island bird sanctuary for its top hemispheric honor in 2004.

The man-made island, known as Manbirtee Key, is the result of Port Manatee’s original dredging project in the 1960s. The port partnered with Gulfstream Natural Gas System and Audubon of Florida in a multi-million dollar project converting the spoil island to a thriving bird sanctuary. Manbirtee Key has attracted more than 120 species of birds since its restoration in 2003.

The island was recontoured to suit a wide range of nesting and feeding habitats. Invasive plant species, overgrown vegetation and predators (such as raccoons, possums and snakes) were removed from the island.

The bird sanctuary and the new seagrass meadows flourish with plant and animal life, demonstrating that ports and nature not only can coexist, but can thrive.


Port Manatee has earned a number of community, environment and communications Honors.