As of 12:30 p.m. today, the Ports of Jacksonville, Fla., and Fernandina, Fla., as well as the intracoastal waterway
, are now open to boat traffic.
Port Canaveral remains
closed because of misplaced aids to navigation
and shoaling in the channel.
The ports were closed to shipping to minimize the chances of damage to port infrastructure and the marine environment and to allow for the quickest return to normal operations as safely possible. Ordering of ships and barges over 500 gross tons out of port and to sea prevented the potential for millions of dollars of damage and the possibility of a large environmental disaster and waterway obstructions. Along the shoreline, waterfront terminals prepared by taking precautions to prevent cargo and containers from washing into the waterway.
The decision to reopen the port was made in concert with port officials and the maritime community and after a general assessment of the condition of the ports. Detailed evaluations of the port's shipping channel will continue and guidelines for ships' transits will adjust accordingly as repairs are made to the aids to navigation.
"I am convinced that the prevention steps taken were worthwhile," said Capt. David Lersch, Captain of the Port of Jacksonville. "The maritime industry and harbor safety committees' assistance was invaluable to the safe closing and timely re-opening of the ports."