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

map

Southeast Florida Reef News

Reef Injury Prevention and Response Program continues to help to protect southeast Florida’s reefs.

John Evered
Reef Injury Prevention and Response Program Coordinator

M/V Firat, a freighter than ran aground close to shore in Ft Lauderdale in 1994 following tropical storm Gordon. Malcolmb Waranoff and Greg McIntosh
M/V Firat, a freighter than ran aground close to shore in Ft Lauderdale in 1994 following tropical storm Gordon. Malcolmb Waranoff and Greg McIntosh

Since 2008, the Reef Injury Prevention and Response (RIPR) Program has strengthened the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Coral Reef Conservation Program’s capacity to respond to, and subsequently assess, damages relating to coral reef injuries. As of April 1, 2011, the program has responded to 99 reports of impacts to the Florida Reef Tract in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties. These reports range from the grounding of large commercial vessels such as the M/V Spar Orion and M/V Clipper Lasco, to recreational boaters anchoring over coral reefs.  The RIPR program is responsible for leading the coordination of the resource trustee response which includes assessing any resultant damage to the reef, ensuring that any necessary primary restoration is carried out at the injury site, and ensuring the appropriate amount of compensatory restoration is completed by the responsible party.

The Coral Reef Protection Act (CRPA) came into effect in July 2009 and affords protection to the entire Florida Reef Tract, which extends 330 nautical miles from the Dry Tortugas to Stuart.  The CRPA also officially authorized the FDEP to act as the State’s lead trustee for coral reef resources injuries. Under the provisions of the CRPA, the responsible party must notify FDEP within 24 hours of an event causing injury and cooperate to undertake damage assessment and primary restoration of the injured coral reef resources. Additionally, FDEP may recover any costs incurred during assessment and monitoring, as well as assessing civil penalties based upon the area of reef that was damaged.

In the past year, the RIPR program in conjunction with FDEP’s Office of General Council, Southeast Regulatory District, and other resource trustees from the National Coral Reef Institute, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Broward County, have recovered over a million dollars in damages from responsible parties. The damages have been deposited into the Ecosystem Management and Recovery Trust Fund, and will be used by the trustees for support in future groundings cases, and to fund projects that will help to protect, and better understand Florida’s coral reef ecosystems.



View This Newsletter | Back to News