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

CRCP Announces 2011-2016 Strategic Plan

Chantal Collier
Coral Reef Program Manager

A beautiful southeast Florida Coral Reef.           Photo: Dave Gilliam, Ph.D.
A beautiful southeast Florida Coral Reef. Photo: Dave Gilliam, Ph.D.

Extensive stands of staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis), mountainous star coral (Montastraea faveolata) colonies that can grow as large as a car, five species of sea turtles, and fish ranging from vibrantly colored angelfish and parrotfish to highly prized snappers and groupers – the coral reefs off mainland southeast Florida are home to an incredibly diverse community of animals and plants. The presence and persistence of these living natural resources, despite the pervasive loss of habitat and reduction of many species that have resulted from decades of coastal construction, pollution, overuse and misuse, is a testimony to the resilience of coral reefs. The importance of Florida’s diverse coral reef resources is underscored by the shoreline protection from storms and erosion, production of sand for our beaches, generation of $5.7 billion in annual sales and income from fishing, diving and boating-related expenditures, and 61,000 local jobs –all of which are sustained by the coral reefs that span our coastal waters from Miami to Stuart, and comprise the northern third of the extraordinary Florida Reef Tract.

Recognition of the biological, geological, cultural and economic value of this unique area led to the development of the Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (FDEP) Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas in 2004. In the seven years since it was established, the CRCP has made significant strides in the advancement of understanding and appreciation of the southeast Florida’s coral reefs and the identification of management actions needed to protect and sustain these irreplaceable resources. The implementation of 140 local action strategies through the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative, the modification of the Port Everglades anchorage area associated with over a dozen ship groundings and anchoring injuries, the passage of Florida’s Ocean Outfall Act in 2008 and the Coral Reef Protection Act in 2009, and promoting management of the Florida Reef Tract from Stuart to the Dry Tortugas as a holistic system, are just a few ways in which CRCP, in cooperation with its many partners, has worked to protect and strengthen coral reef resilience in Florida. But, this is just the beginning. Much work remains to be done to create a sustainable environment that can support recovery of Florida’s reef resources to their historical abundance, minimize impacts of climate change, and balance resource use and protection.

To guide its continuing efforts, the CRCP announces the release of its 2011-2016 Strategic Plan. Acknowledging the critical role of local community support and partnerships, the CRCP developed this plan with input from stakeholders and partners.  The plan sets forward the vision, mission and 17 long-term goals of the CRCP, as well as 13 objectives and 54 strategies to support action toward those goals over the next five years. These goals and strategies are defined within three key program areas: 1) CRCP capacity, 2) education and outreach, and, 3) coral reef ecosystem conservation.

The CRCP’s vision is that the health and management of Florida’s coral reefs and associated reef resources are improving and global coral reef conservation goals are being met effectively to ensure sustainable marine resources and a high quality of life for the State of Florida, its citizens and visitors, today and in the future. Our way of life depends on healthy coral reef resources! We invite you to view and read the complete CRCP 2011-2016 Strategic Plan on the FDEP website at: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/programs/coral/pub/CRCP_Strategic_Plan_2011-2016.pdf

View This Newsletter | Back to News