Together We Can Make A difference By: Tanya Michelle

Byrne Ocean Conservation & Water Warrior Alliance

They work at removing marine debris, hosting an annual St. Pete Ocean Sweep trash collection tournament with over 10k in prizes, which is the fundraiser for Camp Coral. Camp Coral is a two-week overnight PADI open water SCUBA camp that assists Coral Restoration Foundation with the Coral Restoration Project in the Florida Keys. The Water Warrior Alliance empowers our community to advocate for the local environment to ensure a healthy way of life for future generations.

Meet Jenna Byrne, President and a founder of Byrne Ocean Conservation. Jenna earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Sustainability Management from St. Petersburg College and founded Byrne Ocean Conservation in Saint Petersburg at the age of 28. Then she formed the Water Warrior’s Alliance, a local, grassroots, donor and volunteer-fueled non-profit.

Jenna formed the Water Warrior Alliance to encourage the community to join forces in the fight against pollution. She unites like-minded groups, businesses, and organizations for the ultimate goal of fighting plastic pollution. Through her plastic-free pledge, many area businesses have swapped price and convenience for a more conscientious and conservation-minded approach and have moved away from single-use plastic.

Her impact is multi-faceted. She installs and manages the cleaning of several Watergoats and marine debris barriers in critical waterways that storm drains drain into, stopping the debris before it enters the Tampa Bay watershed. She plans to install an additional six Watergoats in 2023. Second, her organization rallies the community to clean beaches through annual turtle nesting beach clean-up events. Third, she assists local municipalities in converting public lighting to amber lighting to protect sea turtles. Consequently, several thousand pounds of plastics and debris have been repurposed or disposed of responsibly.

Her impact extends below the ocean’s surface, as well. She organizes and hosts monthly Dive for Debris events, where she enlists the SCUBA and boating community to collect debris from reefs and the ocean floor, as well as, from mangroves and other coastal vegetation.

She is currently venturing into working with research organizations to plant sea grass to provide a food source for struggling manatees and to increase her work on coral reef restoration. She uses her dive community contacts to achieve the goals of both projects. Similar to a fishing tournament, Jenna designed trash collection tournaments where you can win prizes for collecting trash. They are fundraisers for Camp Coral SCUBA Camp scholarships and are now hosted statewide. Her last objective involves an annual camp for teens that exposes them to becoming environmental stewards and the potential opportunity for careers in marine conservation. At the end of Camp Coral, all camp attendees leave with their SCUBA certification and vast knowledge of Florida’s ecosystem.

Through educating youths and the community on marine conservation and plastic pollution, organizing beach and SCUBA marine debris clean-ups, or providing resources to improve the environment through planting seagrass and coral restoration, Jenna Byrne has had an enormous impact on the Tampa Bay Watershed. Jenna spends excessive time organizing clean-up events or physically maintaining trash barrier devices. She is constantly networking with the city, county and state politicians to encourage them to introduce policy changes to protect the Tampa Bay watershed from debris and pollution.

Her influence touches the very young, as well. She travels to area schools to teach art using repurposed marine debris. During her art classes, she uses the opportunity to instill stewardship and conservation ideas in her pupils.

She is also heavily involved in renovating and reviving the St. Petersburg Science Center. The Water Warrior Alliance is slated to have a STEM-based space in the center. She intends to use the area to inspire further and train tomorrow’s leaders in the marine science and conservation field. When Jenna Byrne is not motivating her two girls to become contributing members of society, she tirelessly works to return Tampa Bay to a healthy, thriving watershed.

Poor water quality stalls economic progress, hinders human potential and reduces food production. Impacting more than 600 marine species, 8-million metric tons of plastic are dumped into the oceans each year. Pollution in the world’s oceans is one of the biggest environmental issues of our time.

Their mission is to improve aquatic wildlife sustainability, while reducing eco-toxicity, rebuilding the benthic layer through ongoing research, and active community conservation and awareness programs. Byrne Ocean Conservation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and all gifts made to this cause may be tax deductible to the extent of the law.

Check out their website & social accts. Together we can make a difference.