DEP Nominated Project Receives Funding for Coral Mapping Research

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Coastal Office congratulates the the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute on its successful competitive grant bid to complete a coral mapping project.

Awarded by the Florida Coastal Management Program with funding from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the grant will create new detailed maps of the coral reefs off Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Dade and Monroe counties in order to provide a better view of the coral reef ecosystem.

“The northern part of the Florida reef tract is unique in that it is so close to the beach in some places you can walk to it,” said Kevin Claridge, Director of DEP’s Florida Coastal Office. “This project will aid in the Department’s management of this environmentally and economically important resource.”

When this project is complete it will add scientifically verified location and health data for the northern part of the coral reef tract, a NOAA identified area of particular concern. According to economic studies of reefs in Southeast Florida, the reef resources along Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties generate an estimated $6.3 billion in sales and income annually and support 71,000 jobs.

An important part of the project is the public service announcement campaign – targeting both television and radio audiences – that will increase communication to related marine industries and stakeholders. Southeast Florida is the most urbanized and populated region in the state, yet many people do not realize how close residents live to the reef and how their individual actions affect reef health.

The campaign aims to increase public awareness for the stakeholder management options process known as Our Florida Reefs. Project outcomes from Our Florida Reefs will include recommendations to conserve, protect and restore coral reef ecosystems, developed by stakeholders with input from coral experts.

Projects of Special Merit must meet specific national criteria as an ocean resource or a special area of management. In this case, the project was selected by the Florida Coastal Management Program within the Florida Coastal Office and then competed nationally for funding. For the second year in a row, a Florida project received funding. Mapping activities began Oct. 1.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Coastal Office is responsible for oversight of the State’s 41 Aquatic Preserves, three National Estuarine Research Reserves, the Outer Continental Shelf Program, the Florida Coastal Management Program, the Florida Coral Reef Conservation Program, and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.  It is our mission to conserve and restore Florida’s coastal resources for the benefit of people and the environment.

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