Photo: Dave Gilliam
Photo: Joe Marino
Fishing, Diving, and Other Uses
The Fishing, Diving, and Other Uses (FDOU) Focus Area was formed to address impacts to southeast Florida’s coral reefs caused by activities such as fishing, diving, and boating. Actions associated with these activities often result in unintended impacts that alter reef ecosystems.
The FDOU Focus Area’s primary purpose is to identify these impacts and assess how they affect marine organisms and their reef habitats; and to work with the local community of stakeholders, scientists, resource managers and regulating agencies to develop stakeholder-driven management recommendations- and subsequently an adaptive management plan-to reduce impacts to southeast Florida’s reefs.
Projects were developed to address vessel use patterns; the direct and indirect impacts to reefs by resource users; stakeholder views and perceptions of the resources; the status of coral reef and fisheries resources; and the need to better balance the sustainable economic use with the conservation of Florida’s Coral Reef.
Photo: Joe Marino
Florida’s Coral Reef is an important habitat for many fish species, also enjoyed by fishers and divers.
Physical contact from commercial and recreational fishing gear can harm fragile coral and entrap and entangle non-targeted marine life.
Improper snorkeling and diving practices, as well as dive equipment, can cause damage to fragile coral.
The SEFCRI team and partners help improve understanding of current stakeholder knowledge and perception of southeast Florida’s coral reefs in order to identify projects that would best fulfill the FDOU Focus Area’s goals. These projects include:
- Collecting information about the use of marine managed areas around the world.
- Examining how current resources, uses, and threats of southeast Florida’s coral reefs have changed from those in the past.
- Providing workshops that encourage divers and fishers to exercise “reef friendly” practices.
- Identifying the most intensely used areas of the reef.
- Use data and information gathered by the SEFCRI Team and partners to adaptively manage the northern third of the Florida Reef Tract.
- Evaluating the state of the fisheries and coral reef resources within the Coral ECA through available fisheries data and the ongoing Southeast Florida Coral Reef Ecosystem Monitoring Program (SECREMP), respectively.
- Engaging various stakeholders in the fishing, diving, and boating communities as well as the marine industry.
- Developing a management plan for the Coral ECA through interagency collaboration and stakeholder participation.
FDOU projects represent local and international perspectives to help ensure the most effective strategies for preserving southeast Florida’s reefs by establishing a balance between the use and protection of coastal and ocean resources. Outcomes of these cooperative strategies include:
- Increased awareness, understanding, and compliance with Florida’s fishing and boating regulations.
- Increased stakeholder education about “reef friendly” practices.
- Achieving a sustainable balance between fishing, diving, and recreational activities so optimal benefits of the resource can be enjoyed by present and future users.
- Minimization of direct and indirect impacts caused by fishing, diving, and other uses associated with coral reefs.
- Development and coordination of a mooring buoy system to protect the most intensely used reef areas from anchoring.
- Stakeholder-identified recommendations that use the best available science to address the goals outlined by the local community of reef users and managers to protect and preserve southeast Florida’s coral reefs for sustainable use.
- Increased public awareness and involvement in the future management of southeast Florida’s coral reefs through Our Florida Reefs.
- In 2009, protection of southeast Florida’s coral reef resources was enhanced via the Coral Reef Protection Act, and the formation of the Reef Injury and Response Program. Find out more here.
See the full list of SEFCRI’s FDOU projects and reports here.
The FDOU focus area works with a community of local stakeholders, scientists, resource managers and regulating agencies to develop stakeholder-driven management recommendations that emphasize the balance between resource use and protection. This focus area works in cooperation with all interested parties to reduce impacts to southeast Florida’s reefs.