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

Recommendations to Improve Permitting, Compliance and Enforcement for Coral Reefs

By Lauren Waters
NOAA Coral Fellow

A view from below at Sunkist Reef off of Broward County. Photo: Joe Marino
A view from below at Sunkist Reef off of Broward County. Photo: Joe Marino

Important ways of protecting our reef and hardbottom habitats include responsible construction techniques, permitting that addresses the needs of the ecosystem, and the ability to enforce those permit and construction conditions. The Maritime Industry and Coastal Construction Impact (MICCI) projects focus on all of these issues.

This fall, the MICCI coordinators and teams have been quite active. The annual MICCI Focus Team meeting was held on November 9th. The purpose of the meeting was to update the MICCI Team on the status of all ongoing MICCI projects, as presented by project contractors and project co-leads, as well as  to present a status update on Awareness and Appreciation Focus Team projects. The final MICCI projects from the 2004 SEFCRI Local Action Strategy (LAS) document are now underway and all are scheduled for completion by July 2011.

Throughout the end of November, and into December, focus has been on the completion of the MICCI Project 4,21,23,24, entitled “Policy Recommendations and Training to Improve Agency Permitting, Compliance and Enforcement for Coral Resource Conservation in Southeast Florida”. This is Phase 2 of a 2 part study. Phase 1 gathered information from coastal construction permits and interviews with field level enforcement staff regarding the current permitting process and how to increase compliance and enforcement within their respective agencies. The final Phase 1 report included overall lessons learned and suggestions for increasing agency effectiveness.  Suggestions included standardizing permit conditions and standardized training of agency personnel on the rules and regulations within, and between, agencies. Phase 2 built on this by creating a 3 part power point training tool that will be presented to regulatory agencies in southeast Florida. This training includes information on basic coral biology and habitat, current regulations, and recommendations for improving project compliance and enforcement. When complete, the report and training tools will be available on line with all final MICCI products.

This project will help our reef and hardbottom resources by making sure coastal construction is completed according to permit conditions, which will help decrease injury to our hardbottom and reef system. The training will also improve response to un-permitted impacts, by providing agency personnel with information about how to address impacts if they do occur.

All final MICCI and SEFCRI products are available for download from:

http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/programs/coral/reports/



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