Last night, we had Meghan Balling and Daron Willison from Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Coral Reef Conservation Program come to our club to tell us about the ongoing danger to our local coral reefs and how we can reverse the damage to these important ecosystems.
The Conservation Program focuses on the reefs just off our coastline from southern Miami-Dade County up through Broward and Palm Beach Counties and to the St. Lucie inlet in Martin County (the rest of the reef stretching down through the Florida keys is protected and managed by the national park system and is seeing some recovery). The Southeast Florida Coral Reefs initiative is bringing together government, citizens and stakeholders to effectuate sound policies that will both protect the reefs from damage and allow access to boaters, divers, recreational fishermen and commercial fisheries.
This reef system, one of the largest barrier reefs in the world at about 350 miles, is crucial to our South Florida way of life by:
- Providing an environment that supports a variety of marine wildlife including fish and seafood for consumption
- Supporting 70,400 local jobs and producing $8.5 billion in revenue to our region
- Protecting coastal dwellings and property from hurricanes and storm surges
- Giving recreational fishermen and divers a beautiful habitat to explore
- Providing medicines for cancer, HIV and heart disease
Reefs are under attack from hazards such as invasive species, pollution, damage from divers and boats and stress from a rising human population.
How You Can Help:
- When diving, do not touch coral
- When boating, do not anchor on coral
- If you see damage to reefs, report it to http://www.seafan.net
- Get involved in the solution at http://www.floridareef.org