Common Sea Fans (<em>Gorgonia ventilina</em>) are one of several species of sea fans found in southeast Florida. Sea fans are also classified as soft corals or gorgonians.

Common Sea Fans (Gorgonia ventilina) are one of several species of sea fans found in southeast Florida. Sea fans are also classified as soft corals or gorgonians.

Photo: Chantal Collier

Juvenile bluehead wrasses swim along the reef in Palm Beach.

Juvenile bluehead wrasses swim along the reef in Palm Beach.

Photo: Joe Marino

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Southeast Florida Reef News

The “Our Florida Reefs” Community Planning Process is in Full Swing

Meghan Balling
Fishing, Diving and Other Uses Coordinator

CRCP staff and SEFCRI partners at a recent meeting of the North Community Working Group. Pictured (left to right) Meghan Balling (CRCP), Ben Wahle (CRCP), Dana Wusinich-Mendez (NOAA), Jamie Monty (CRCP), James Byrne (TNC) and Jenny Báez (CRCP).
CRCP staff and SEFCRI partners at a recent meeting of the North Community Working Group. Pictured (left to right) Meghan Balling (CRCP), Ben Wahle (CRCP), Dana Wusinich-Mendez (NOAA), Jamie Monty (CRCP), James Byrne (TNC) and Jenny Báez (CRCP).
After years of collaborative data gathering and preparation, the “Our Florida Reefs” community planning process is now in full swing. The largest undertaking of the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI) to date, this project brings together stakeholders with a vested interest in the future of Florida’s coral reef ecosystem to develop recommendations for a comprehensive management strategy that balances the use and protection of southeast Florida’s reefs.

Earlier this year, a total of 52 individuals representing a variety of stakeholder interests were selected to become members of the “Our Florida Reefs” community working groups. Separated into a North Working Group (Martin and Palm Beach counties) and a South Working Group (Broward and Miami-Dade counties), these community members began meeting in March and will continue to meet monthly over the next year to review the latest science and work together to develop management recommendations for the future of southeast Florida’s coral reefs.

Over the course of several months, community working group members participated in an educational phase in which they heard from representatives from the South Florida Water Management District, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, as well as environmental management staff from Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties and others on the topics of water, coral, fish, habitat, people and ecosystems. Working Groups also reviewed case studies and learned about the range of management strategies that exist both in south Florida and around the world.

Following this educational phase, the community working groups are now embarking on the process of developing management recommendations to address the current threats and issues affecting southeast Florida’s coral reefs. Members of the public are encouraged to get involved by attending the monthly community working group meetings and submitting public comment online throughout the process. For more information on upcoming meetings, or to submit a public comment, visit http://ourfloridareefs.org.


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