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photo: Miami-Dade County

Awareness and Appreciation Focus Area

The Awareness and Appreciation (AA) Focus area was formed to address coral reef degradation attributed to a lack of knowledge or understanding by local coral reef stakeholders. Impacts from activities conducted by users unaware of the presence and vulnerability of the reef can be reduced through increased awareness and the refinement of use practices.

Goals and Objectives

The aim of the projects in the Local Action Strategy for this focus area is to encourage positive behaviors and decisions that benefit coral reefs among citizens and visitors in southeast Florida. The main goals are:

  • Educate residents and visitors to the region about our diverse near shore coral resources.
  • Educate residents and visitors on the benefits of these resources, both economically and environmentally.
  • Educate residents and visitors on current threats and conservation actions that individuals can take to protect our coral reefs and marine environment.

Photo: Scott’s Bioblitz Group

Volunteers gathered in Dania Beach, FL, to perform a BioBlitz on the beach and nearshore reef structures. A BioBlitz is when groups of people search a given area and write down every species they see, to document biodiversity.

Projects:

The Awareness and Appreciation team has worked to implement over 40 projects over the course of the last ten years. These projects include:

  • The creation of outreach materials such as brochures, exhibits, hotel tent cards and this website.
  • Training area teachers to educate students on the importance of our local reefs.
  • Television, radio, and internet public service announcements targeting residents and visitors who may not have prior knowledge of our local reefs.
  • Posting coral reef signage at public boat ramps in the four SEFCRI counties.
  • The team also conducted a Needs Assessment Study to better understand coral reef knowledge, attitudes and practices of residents, visitors and stakeholder groups in the SEFCRI region. This Needs Assessment Study will be updated starting in 2018.
  • Educating local businesses on the importance of plastic reduction.
  • Coral Reef Conservation Kits filled with coral related lesson plans and activities sent to area teachers for free.
  • Education on the importance of use reduction of sunscreens containing Oxybenzone and Avobenzone.
  • Working with local county curriculum coordinators to incorporate local coral reef information and education materials in area schools.

You may view all of the AA Focus Area projects by clicking here for the Local Action Strategy document. Please note that new projects voted into the Local Action Strategy will be added to this document in 2018.

Outcomes:

  • Better coordinated and targeted coral reef ecosystem outreach and education effort in southeast Florida.
  • Increased positive behaviors and decisions that benefit coral reefs.
  • A well-educated media that will communicate important reef conservation messages.
  • Increased effectiveness of local educators to inform their students of the economic and environmental importance of our local reefs.
  • Users will better be able to help our reefs in their day to day lives, and when using our local reefs.
  • A website containing up-to-date and relevant information to inform the public of the status of our local reefs, and the status of current and past SEFCRI Local Action Strategy products.