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

Inter-Agency Lionfish Workshop

By Katharine Tzadik
Environmental Project Coordinator

Invasive lionfish sightings are becoming more frequent along southeast Florida’s coral reefs.                     Photo: Joe Marino
Invasive lionfish sightings are becoming more frequent along southeast Florida’s coral reefs. Photo: Joe Marino

As part of the Southeast Marine Event Response Program (SEMERP), the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Coral Reef Conservation Program (FDEP-CRCP) is collaborating with REEF and Miami-Dade Sea Grant to hold an inter-agency lionfish workshop in January 2011. Lionfish have been reported throughout the east coast of the U.S. from Florida up through Massachusetts and further afield, from Bermuda, the Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean. The rapid spread over a relatively short time period has caused alarm as this invasive species poses a major threat to native fish populations, associated habitats and ecosystems as a whole.

With an ever increasing lionfish population, state and federal agencies, and local organizations have been working to document and assist in the removal of these fish. Many have focused on providing outreach materials to better educate the public and resource users about the current situation. The workshop intends to bring together agency staff who are actively engaged and those that frequently dive Florida’s Reef Tract on other endeavors to discuss issues concerning this invasive species and potential ways for cooperative management.

SEMERP has been designed to fill the reporting/response gap in the southeast Florida region. As an expansion of the Mote Marine Laboratory's Marine Ecosystem Event Response and Assessment Program (MEERA) in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary it will provide a similar and continuous response program for the entire Florida Reef Tract. Upon notification of a biological disturbance event, FDEP-CRCP will coordinate with regional partners to schedule initial site assessments, implement event response protocols, and analyze samples, where possible and appropriate. The SEMERP data will be used to develop status and trend datasets for different marine events. In an effort to inform the public and maintain an important stakeholder communication avenue quarterly reports will be distributed via e-mail and uploaded to the FDEP-CRCP website.



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