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

Florida Department of Environmental Protection/Florida Coastal Office represents the State at 33rd meeting of United States Coral Reef Task Force and All Islands Coral Reef Committee

Joanna Walczak, Southeast Regional Administrator

This February, FDEP’s Florida Coastal Office Director Kevin Claridge and Southeast Regional Administrator Joanna Walczak represented the State of Florida at the 33rd meeting of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) and U.S. All Islands Coral Reef Committee (AIC), held in Washington, D.C.

 

The USCRTF was established in 1998 by Presidential Executive Order to lead U.S. efforts to preserve and protect coral reef ecosystems. It includes leaders of 12 federal agencies, seven U.S. States, Territories, and Commonwealths, and three Freely Associated States. The USCRTF helps build partnerships, strategies, and support for on-the-ground action to conserve coral reefs.

 

The AIC ensures coordination and cooperation within and among the seven U.S. coral reef jurisdictions including American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Affiliate jurisdictions are the Freely Associated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau. Working together with federal agencies and partners the AIC presents a unified voice for the better management and protection of our coral reef ecosystems for present and future generations.

 

Highlights of the meeting include updates on the local coral management efforts from each of the seven U.S. coral reef jurisdictions; USCRTF’s Watershed Partnership Initiative coordination efforts in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and American Samoa; the National Ocean Policy Strategic Action Plan; the new Endangered Species Act listing of 20 corals and associated 4(d) rule development; and the Handbook on Coral Reef Impacts: Avoidance, Minimization, Compensatory Mitigation and Restoration being developed by the USCRTF’s Injury & Mitigation working group.

 

Global and local threats to coral reefs continue to grow and coral reefs are declining at alarming rates. Models from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predict that 2015 is expected to be the worst coral bleaching event since 1998, when the U.S. functionally lost 15-20 percent (almost one-fifth) of the world’s coral reefs. The members of the USCRTF and AIC are committed to working together to be more effective in protecting our ecologically and economically valuable coral reef ecosystems.

 

For more information, visit: http://www.coralreef.gov/ and http://allislandscommittee.org/



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