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PORT MANATEE -- Sea grass always was the linchpin to a major expansion at Port Manatee.
In exchange for permission to dredge more than 100 acres and build a new shipping berth, the port had to transplant and nurture the valuable plants, a key indicator of water quality and a provider of food and shelter for manatees and fish.
Environmental regulators aren't ready to call the project a done deal, but Port Manatee thinks it's close enough.
Port officials are asking the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to allow them to start using a new shipping berth before there is evidence that the sea grass transplant was successful.
If the …