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Coral Reef Study Aims for Better Management December 15, 2014

Southeast Florida is world-famous for its pristine beaches, abundant sunshine and the various watersports it offers both visitors and residents. Members of the marine industry know many of those ocean activities involve coral reefs in some way. Whether it’s a day of scuba diving, fishing for the next “big catch” or taking part in mini-lobster season, Florida’s reefs are a major attraction and economy enhancer. But there’s more to the story – these reefs are in distress.

Nova Southern University’s Oceanographic Center researchers have teamed up with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI) to launch the Our Florida Reefs Coastal and Ocean Use Survey. They are asking for input from MIASF and others in the marine industry knowing members are frequently on the water. 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. To access the survey www.ourfloridareefs.org and click on the “mapping” tab.

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 costal 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 reefs to better balance resource use and protection with a goal of ensuring healthy coral reefs for future generations.

“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. He encourages all ocean users to provide their important information so that it can be captured and used during the research process.

Input is sought from the marine community to include in the project; visit www.OurFloridaReefs.org and click on “Mapping.”

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Marine Industries Association of South Florida. 221 SW 3rd Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312. Phone: 954.524.2733