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Diver swimming over Elkhorn Coral in the Florida Keys. 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) released a statement after NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program announced nearly $21.4 million in fiscal year 2021 federal funding for coral reef restoration, including more than $8.5 million for Florida.

“Protecting Florida’s coral reefs is common sense,” Rubio said. “Not only do the reefs help protect our vulnerable coastlines from storm surges, but they are home to an incredibly diverse marine ecosystem. The State of Florida, in partnership with universities and other local non-governmental organizations, is leading the way on reef restoration, and federal funding is a key source of support.

“We must empower our non-federal partners by providing them the tools and resources they need to continue to be effective partners,” Rubio continued. “My bipartisan Restoring Resilient Reefs Act would do exactly that by ensuring that federal agencies are partnering effectively with state, local, and non-governmental organizations who are on the cutting edge of efforts to restore our coral reefs. It is time for this bill to become law so that we can finally turn the tide of coral loss and save our treasured coral reefs.”

In January, Rubio and Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Rick Scott (R-FL), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) reintroduced the bipartisan Restoring Resilient Reefs Act of 2021 (S. 46). First introduced in August 2019, the bill would reauthorize and modernize the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000 and strengthen NOAA’s Coral Reef program. The bill unanimously passed the Senate in December 2020, but stalled in the House at the end of the 116th Congress.

The Coral Reef Conservation Act, which expired more than 15 years ago, was designed to promote the conservation of our nation’s reefs.

In recent years, the decline in the nation’s coral reefs has only become more severe. The Restoring Resilient Reefs Act directs federal funding and technical assistance to states for the restoration and management of coral reef ecosystems.

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