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

Bidding Farewell to Long-Time FDEP CRCP Manager Chantal Collier

Joanna Walczak
CRCP Acting Manager

Chantal Collier (center) with staff members Jamie Monty (left) and Katharine Tzadik (right) during one of Chantal’s final dives for the FDEP CRCP.
Chantal Collier (center) with staff members Jamie Monty (left) and Katharine Tzadik (right) during one of Chantal’s final dives for the FDEP CRCP.

As a fitting way to end her last day with the FDEP CRCP, the USCRTF recognized Chantal Collier with an award for her Outstanding Management contributions. The award commends Chantal's visionary leadership in growing the CRCP, her tireless efforts to expand the knowledge of, and protection for, southeast Florida's coral reefs resources, and her ability to begin the program in southeast Florida from ground zero.

Chantal Collier was hired in 2004 by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to single-handedly start up its Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP). With only one staff (Chantal) at the time, the main objective of the CRCP was to develop and implement Florida’s Local Action Strategy (LAS) through the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI). With guidance from Chantal, the SEFCRI team of marine resource professionals (state, regional and federal), scientists, non-governmental organization representatives and other coral reef stakeholders developed 140 local action strategy projects targeting coral reef resources from Miami-Dade County through Broward, Palm Beach, and Martin counties. This region was chosen because its reefs are close to an intensely developed coastal region with a large and diverse human population. Prior to the development of the SEFCRI, there was no coordinated management plan proposed for reefs located north of the Florida Keys and Biscayne National Park.

After 7 extremely active years, the CRCP has expanded far beyond the original LAS, as well as beyond everyone's expectations. Over the years, Chantal has been instrumental in furthering the holistic management of the Florida Reef Tract by striving to create consistency in terminology across all of the jurisdictional boundaries (e.g., FDEP CRCP, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Biscayne National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, Everglades National Park, Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park, etc.), as well as increasing communication and opportunities for collaboration while maximizing the ever-limited management resources.

Additionally, since the CRCP delegated the responsibility in 2006, Chantal and staff have been responsible for coordinating the initial response to assessment and restoration of, and recovery of penalties for coral reef injury and grounding events in the southeast Florida region. Because of the overwhelming amount of time consumed by this responsibility, Chantal secured approval to create the much-needed Reef Injury Prevention and Response (RIPR) Coordinator position. The RIPR continues to work with FDEP's Office of General Counsel and Southeast Regulatory District, FWC, and local county agencies, to coordinate a full response to these incidents.

In 2007, Chantal joined other representatives of the Port Everglades Harbor Safety Committee, including the U.S. Coast Guard, Port Everglades, Nova Southeastern University (NSU), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Broward County and others to announce the enactment of a reconfigured commercial anchorage area at Port Everglades. This reconfiguration was the result of the recommendations made following a review of the commercial vessel groundings off the Ft. Lauderdale coast (11 major commercial vessels grounded in the same area in just under 12 years), in consultation with stakeholders, as a management solution to attempt to prevent further damages to ships and injuries to the reefs. The changes to the existing Port Everglades commercial vessel anchorage rules include (1) eliminating the section of the anchorage closest to sensitive living coral reefs, (2) expanding the anchorage in deeper waters further away from the reef, and (3) limiting the time a vessel may remain in the anchorage to 72 hours.

Chantal and other key FDEP staff also wrote and supported the legislative concept for the Florida Coral Reef Protection Act – which was passed into law in 2009.

Recently, Chantal participated on the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service sponsored Acropora Recovery Team, she worked with partners at NSU, Florida International University and NOAA to complete the development of the first coral reef water monitoring program for southeast Florida, she served as the Point of Contact for Florida on the US Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) and as Vice Chair of the U.S. All Islands Coral Reef Committee.

Chantal has now relocated up north and has taken a new position working with The Nature Conservancy. The FDEP CRCP will miss Chantal tremendously, but wish her all the best in her new pursuits. 



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