Our mission is to build partnerships to restore and protect Tampa Bay through implementation of a scientifically sound, community-based management plan.
Tampa Bay was designated an “estuary of national significance” by Congress in 1990, laying the foundation for the creation of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) in 1991. Our mission is to build partnerships to restore and protect Tampa Bay through implementation of a scientifically sound, community-based management plan. The plan reflects our evolving knowledge of bay processes and community needs and is focused on three central program priorities: Clean Waters and Sediments; Thriving Habitats and Abundant Wildlife; and an Informed, Engaged and Responsible Community.
Our work is governed by a Policy Board of elected officials and a Management Board of regional administrators. Several committees, including a Technical Advisory Committee of scientists and managers; a Nitrogen Management Consortium of industries, regulators and expanded city-county members; and a Community Advisory Committee of engaged citizens are also critical contributors to the restoration and protection of Tampa Bay.
The Tampa Bay Estuary Program is one of 28 National Estuary Programs designated by Congress to restore and protect “estuaries of national significance.” Administered by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act, each program must develop a science-based plan using community input to protect and enhance the natural resources of its respective estuary and surrounding watershed.
To achieve this, the TBEP staff engages an extensive network of committees, community members, academia, and both public and private sector partners, all guided by the Program.
Vision & Values
The Tampa Bay Estuary Program is a national leader in applying robust, reproducible science and compelling storytelling to drive community decisions and individual behaviors for the benefit of cleaner waters, thriving habitats and abundant wildlife—all of which sustain our economy and way of life in the Tampa Bay region.
To realize this vision and guide our work, the Tampa Bay Estuary Program is committed to the following core values:
- Scientific Integrity
- Collaboration, Communication, and Partnership
- Programmatic Continuity and Stability
Informed, Engaged & Responsible Community
Inform and engage our partners and the public to appreciate, protect, and sustain Tampa Bay through responsible use, participation in restoration, and adoption of best practices.
Clean Waters and Sediments
Improve water quality by managing nutrient loads from urban, agricultural, and atmospheric sources and by reducing contaminants from spills and discharges.
Thriving Habitats & Abundant Wildlife
Increase the number and diversity of healthy bay habitats through restoration and protection to support thriving fisheries and wildlife resilient to a changing climate.
TBEP coordinates the overall protection and restoration of the bay with support from its many formal and informal partners. We monitor progress in achieving the goals of the community’s restoration plan by regularly summarizing and evaluating information provided by our network of community leaders, researchers and partners.
After decades of pollution, Tampa Bay is coming back to life, again assuming its position as the shimmering economic and environmental centerpiece of the vibrant southwest Florida region. Click on the timeline below to learn more about how citizens, elected officials, industries and regulators have banded together to protect and restore the Tampa Bay estuary.
TBEP’s Awards and Accomplishments Through the Years
From addressing nutrient pollution to keeping the community informed and involved, the Tampa Bay Estuary Program’s accomplishments have garnered numerous prestigious awards over the years. These accolades help to spotlight the important work being done by the Program and our many partners.
Future of the Region (2023)
The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council honored the Little Manatee River Wild and Scenic Designation and Conceptual Restoration Plan at the 29th Annual Future of the Region Awards. Representatives from the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Hillsborough County, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, and Congressman Vern Buchanan’s office accepted the award.
Future of the Region Award (2019)
The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council recognized Solutions to Avoid Red Tide for their Gulf Coast Oyster Recycling and Renewal Program (Bay Mini-Grant recipient) at the 27th Annual Future of the Region Awards.
Keep Pinellas Beautiful “Outstanding Environmental Partner Award” (2019)
CERF Coastal Stewardship Award for Stewardship (2017)
Awarded to the Tampa Bay Nitrogen Management Consortium