DEP's Coral Reef Conservation Program Co-hosts 38th U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Meeting

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DEP's Coral Reef Conservation Program Co-hosts 38th U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Meeting

~This year's meeting explored the theme of "Healthy Reefs for a Healthy Economy" ~


Presentations provided updates on the ecological and economic values of Florida's coral reefs. 

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Florida Coastal Office's Southeast Region recently co-hosted the 38th U.S. Coral Reef Task Force meeting with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Interior. The meeting brought together representatives from various federal, state, territorial, commonwealth and local government agencies from regions that contain or benefit from coral reefs to discuss coral reef conservation efforts and objectives.

"DEP was excited to co-host the 38th U.S. Coral Reef Task Force meeting," said Drew Bartlett, DEP deputy secretary for water policy and ecosystems restoration. “Through increased coordination and productive discussions, we can better understand what is threatening Florida's vital coral reef systems and how to protect them." 

The theme for this year's meeting was "Healthy Reefs for a Healthy Economy," exploring the relationship between the health of our local coral reef communities and the economies of our state and local communities. Attendees participated in working groups, planning meetings and educational field trips to experience Florida’s reefs. Workshops covered a variety of topics, including marine debris, sedimentation and turbidity, and restoration efforts. 

Additionally, during the meeting, the U.S. Coast Guard, DEP and Nova Southeastern University representatives jointly announced revisions to the commercial anchorage areas in Broward and Miami-Dade counties designed to increase the region's coral reef protection efforts. The revised anchorage areas were re-configured as a result of studies conducted by DEP and Nova Southeastern University, and will protect more than 600 acres of coral reef from future impacts by keeping boats from protected reefs. DEP also announced that it received $1 million in funding from the state legislature to support priority research associated with offshore water quality conditions and response capacity to the on-going coral disease outbreak.

Ranging from the Dry Tortugas to the St. Lucie Inlet in Martin County, the Florida Reef Tract provides over 70,000 jobs and $6.4 billion annually to Florida's economy. It is also home to approximately 45 species of reef-building coral and over 305 fish species, some of which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.