DEP’s Florida Costal Office Partners to Remove Marine Debris

July 24, 2015

KEY LARGO, Fla. – Florida Coastal Management Program’s newly created marine debris rapid response team enjoyed a big success with the recent removal of a derelict boat lift from Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary waters. The 35-foot-long lift was impacting marine resources since settling on a seagrass bed just south of John Pennekamp Coral Reef Sate Park in Key Largo. A barge with a crane was used to remove the derelict boat lift to avoid further damage to the seagrass bed and nearby coral reef habitat. It was properly disposed of in an upland disposal site. 

“Seagrass communities are vital to the health of Florida’s waters and support many of the area’s economically important commercial and recreational fisheries,” said Karen Bohnsack, the Florida Coastal Office’s reef resilience coordinator. “Marine debris removals like this one contribute to bettering Florida’s water quality and maintaining economic opportunities in the local area.” 

Florida Coastal Office’s Florida Coastal Management Program (FCMP) spearheaded the creation of Florida’s first statewide marine debris rapid response team. FCMP funds the emergency removal of marine debris in order to minimize human and environmental safety concerns. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Coastal Office partnered with Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the National Park Service and the U.S. Coast Guard to form the initial marine debris rapid response team. The flagship team is located in Southeast Florida, but the program concept allows for the creation of additional regionally focused teams. 

“The marine debris rapid response team was created to address debris posing an immediate threat to marine habitats or wildlife not covered by other programs,” said Erin McDevitt, FWC’s marine habitat biologist. “This new program allows resource managers to quickly develop and implement an emergency debris removal plan for the protection of the public and environment.”

The Florida Coastal Management Program is based on a network of agencies that protect and enhance the state’s natural, cultural and economic coastal resources through funding from NOAA. For more information about this program, please click here.

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