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

Long-Term Planning for Southeast Florida’s Coral Reefs: FDEP CRCP Staff Receive Marxan Training

Jamie Monty
Fishing, Diving and Other Uses Project Coordinator

Juvenile Hamlet in front of a Giant Barrel Sponge. Photo by Joe Marino.
Juvenile Hamlet in front of a Giant Barrel Sponge. Photo by Joe Marino.

The long-term goal of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Coral Reef Conservation Program (FDEP CRCP) is to develop an effective strategy to preserve and protect southeast Florida’s coral reefs and associated reef resources, emphasizing balance between resource use and protection, in cooperation with all interested parties. FDEP CRCP is working toward achieving this goal by implementing Local Action Strategy (LAS) projects. The resulting data from several Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI) LAS projects include Geographic Information System (GIS) files that can be displayed visually to create maps. Examples include where and how often fishers and divers go to use reef resources, where coastal construction projects and ship groundings have occurred, and the location of benthic habitats and protected species such as Acropora spp (staghorn coral).

 

In mid-January, FDEP CRCP staff participated in Marxan training offered by The Nature Conservancy. Marxan (Ball and Possingham, 2000) is a software program developed by the University of Queensland and is used to analyze GIS files in order to plan for a future ecosystem goal, typically conservation. Using Marxan, planners can identify an efficient and repeatable system of sites to apply the identified goal while minimizing costs. Marxan is the most-utilized conservation planning tool worldwide; over 60 countries, 1100 users, and 600 organizations have used Marxan to support the design of terrestrial and marine reserves. For example, it was used to evaluate and design new zones in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and design marine reserves in California’s Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

FDEP CRCP staff will continue to investigate other marine spatial planning tools and weigh the benefits and disadvantages of each to select the most appropriate one for use in analyzing SEFCRI LAS GIS files. The selected tool will be used in conjunction with stakeholder working groups for planning future types and locations of different management alternatives for southeast Florida’s coral reefs.



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