DEP Partners with Nova Southeastern to Learn How Coral Reefs are Being Used

December 2, 2014

~Project seeks community input to help manage Florida’s coral reefs~

Florida’s coral reefs are a vital natural resource and popular tourist attraction for the state. In order to better manage this important yet fragile ecosystem, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI) have partnered with Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center researchers to launch the Our Florida Reefs Coastal and Ocean-use Survey.

This survey is being conducted as part of a local initiative for the southeast Florida region, known as Our Florida Reefs.

“The Our Florida Reefs Community Working Group members are crafting recommendations to balance use and protection of southeast Florida’s coral reefs using the best available science, but they cannot complete their task without information about the diverse interests of all ocean users,” said Jamie Monty, manager of the FDEP Coral Reef Conservation Program and chair of the SEFCRI team. “We’re thrilled to launch the OFR Coastal and Ocean-use Survey to ensure this important information is captured and used during this process.”

The survey is intended for anyone – local, state, national or international – who has enjoyed the coral reefs in southeast Florida to provide information on their experiences. You can find the survey by visiting Our Florida Reefs webpage here and clicking on the “mapping” tab.

“Since the 1960s, NSU’s Oceanographic Center has been working to learn more about our marine environment, the role it plays and how we can be better stewards of this natural resource,” said Richard Dodge, Ph.D., dean of NSU’s Oceanographic Center. “Today, more than ever, it’s vital that we continue to learn how to strike a balance between enjoying Florida’s precious resources in the sea and ensuring that they remain vibrant and thrive for generations to come.”

Brian Walker, Ph.D., a researcher at NSU’s Oceanographic Center, has been working with local stakeholders and Point 97, a company dedicated to developing technology solutions for assisting in coastal management, to develop a reef-use survey to poll the public.

“The data collected from the survey will provide essential information for developing appropriate management strategies while affecting the least amount of users,” Walker said.

By providing information on where they fish, dive, boat, surf, etc. local residents, reef users, business owners, visitors and the broader public in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties will be part of the data used by the Our Florida Reefs Community Working Groups to enhance recommendations on managing Florida’s reefs to better balance resource use and protection while ensuring healthy coral reefs for future generations.

About Nova Southeastern University: Situated on 314 beautiful acres in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a dynamic research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at all levels.  NSU is an independent, not-for-profit institution with 26,000 students at campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach and Tampa, Florida as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico. NSU awards associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, doctoral and first-professional degrees in a wide range of fields. NSU is classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and it is one of only 37 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification. For more information, please visit www.nova.edu.

About NSU’s Oceanographic Center: The Oceanographic Center provides high-quality graduate education programs (i.e. master’s, doctoral, certificate) in a broad range of marine science disciplines. Center researchers carry out innovative, basic and applied marine and research programs in coral reel biology, ecology, and geology; fish biology, ecology, and conservation; shark and billfish ecology; fisheries science; deep sea organismal biology and ecology; invertebrate and vertebrate genomics, genetics, molecular ecology, and evolution; microbiology; biodiversity;  observation and modeling of large scale ocean circulation, coastal dynamics, and ocean atmosphere coupling; benthic habitat mapping; biodiversity; histology; and calcification. For more information, please visit http://www.nova.edu/ocean

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