DEP Partners with U.S. Coast Guard to Protect Coral

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DEP Partners with U.S. Coast Guard to Protect Coral

~Anchorage changes to Port Miami will reduce impacts to coral reefs~

MIAMI – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and Nova Southeastern University (NSU), has modified the Port of Miami Anchorage Area in Miami Beach. Changes in design and configuration will protect more than 600 acres of coral reef from future impacts by keeping boats from protected reef areas. The anchorage area, where boats can safely maneuver and park, will now be divided into two separate areas, including an inner western anchorage for smaller vessels and an outer eastern anchorage for larger vessels totaling 1.5 square nautical miles.

"This outstanding conservation management achievement is a testament to how local stakeholders can effectively work together to protect Florida's ecologically and economically important coral reefs," said Joanna Walczak, Southeast regional administrator for DEP's Florida Coastal Office.

The new anchorages are the result of extensive collaboration between numerous stakeholder groups, agencies, universities and private citizens at federal, state and local levels. Studies conducted by DEP and NSU showed that anchorage modification was necessary to reduce reef damage to the ecologically and economically important northern portion of the Florida Reef Tract. This study led to the formation of a working group coordinated by USCG, DEP and NSU, where a group of varied stakeholders including federal and state agencies, port pilots, Port Miami administration, university scientists and other shipping interests worked together to design the new configuration.

"In an era of tight budgeting, competing priorities and different organizational cultures, we were able to accomplish this project by remaining flexible and not losing sight of our common goals," said Paul D. Lehmann, USCG Seventh District Prevention Waterways Management Division.

Ranging from the northern boundary of Biscayne National Park to the St. Lucie Inlet in Martin County, this reef system provides over 70,000 jobs and $6.4 billion annually to Florida's economy. It is also home to approximately 45 coral species and over 305 fish species, some of which are listed on the Endangered Species Act. These corals and fish communities attract tourists both regionally and globally.