DEP Participates in the 14th Annual Oceans Day at the Capital

On April 9,  the Florida Department of Environmental Protection participated in the 14th annual celebration of Florida Oceans Day at the Capitol. This year’s theme, “Tomorrow’s Ocean Workforce,” highlighted the contributions of the ocean and coastal economy for job creation in the Sunshine State.

The Division of Water Resource Management and the Florida Coastal Office both represented the Department with educational displays. The Florida Coastal Office co-chairs the Florida Ocean and Coastal Council. The Council is part of the Florida Ocean Alliance, which sponsors the day-long event.

“Florida’s ocean and coasts contribute significantly to Florida’s economy,” said Drew Bartlett, DEP’s Deputy Secretary for Water Policy and Eco Restoration. “Their health is critical and protecting these resources sustains their economic benefits for the future.”

Florida Ocean’s Day was created to call attention to the need for healthy oceans and coasts. The Florida Ocean Alliance noted in a 2013 report that, “In 2011, about one out of every twenty dollars’ worth of Florida’s gross domestic product resulted from use of the state’s ocean resources.” A legislative reception on Wednesday evening, sponsored by Mote Marine Institute, concluded the event which involved a day of exhibits, workshops and educational visits to the legislature by academia, non-governmental agencies and the Department.

The gross regional product from Florida’s oceans and coasts totals more than $584 billion annually. A 2011 study by the Florida Ocean Alliance found the tourism industry to be the largest job creator. Coastal transportation, a sector that includes cruise and container ports, ranks as the second largest source of ocean related employment. Florida operates the three largest cruise ship ports in the world, and three of the top 20 container ports in the world call the peninsula home.

The Department’s Division of Water Resource Management regulates coastal construction activities on Florida’s beaches while protecting the resources such as hardbottom and reef communities, turtle and shorebird nesting habitat, seagrasses and sand sources. Oceans Day allows the Division to educate the public on the importance of maintaining a balance between managing beach erosion while protecting these valuable resources. The Division has experts from a variety of academic backgrounds collaborating on these beach management projects to ensure that the beach is nourished and to minimize impacts to adjacent habitats.

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

The Florida Ocean Alliance is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to bringing together government, academic and private sectors in Florida to protect and enhance Florida’s coastal and ocean resources for continued social and economic benefits. For more information click here.

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