On Wednesday, Nov. 13, the Senate Committee on Commerce will meet to markup two of Senator Rubio’s bills, the Restoring Resilient Reefs Act of 2019 (S. 2429) and the South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act (S. 10).
Rubio’s bipartisan, bicameral coral reef legislation, which was first introduced in August, has received widespread praise from government leaders, the business community, conservation groups, environmental advocacy groups, and research experts.
“Florida depends on our coral reefs. Not only are they essential to the health of our marine ecosystem, they are vital to coastal resiliency, stand as the first line of defense against storm surge in Southeast Florida and play a key role in our tourism economy,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. “I applaud Senator Rubio’s advocacy for this important resource and look forward to the opportunity this support would provide to help preserve, sustain and restore the condition of Florida’s coral reefs.”
“The health of Florida’s reefs safeguard our state against extreme weather, shoreline erosion, and coastal flooding,” said Noah Valenstein, Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. “DEP is fully committed to supporting coral rehabilitation efforts such as the Restoring Resilient Reefs Act. Looking ahead, we want to know we have done everything in our power to address this problem for generations to come.”
“The Restoring Resilient Reefs Act is a solution to a very real problem,” said Robert Spottswood, Chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “Florida’s precious coral reef tract is in dire need of restoration and rehabilitation. We are running out of time and are in danger of losing this wonderful natural resource. The Restoring Resilient Reefs Act would create unique partnerships by allowing local, state, and federal government officials to work with the best and brightest minds from nonprofit organizations in a collaborative effort to tackle this problem immediately and save our coral reef tract.”
“Coral reef preservation and restoration is vital not only to our environment and our economy, but also in ensuring coastal resiliency,” said state Representative Holly Raschein. Restoring and maintaining this precious and unique ecosystem has never been more important, and I strongly support Senator Rubio’s Restoring Resilient Reefs Act of 2019.”
“We greatly appreciate Senator Rubio’s leadership on the reauthorization of the Coral Reef Conservation Act,” said Roman Gastesi, Monroe County Administrator. “Coral reef protection and restoration is of utmost importance to Monroe County. The Florida Keys’ coral reef is part of one of the most unique marine ecosystems in the world. It is not only a national environmental treasure, it is also an important economic driver. Reauthorization
ensures that our coral reef continues to receive the funding and attention it deserves.”
“We appreciate the efforts of Senator Rubio and his staff on the issue of coral reefs,” said Lee Hefty, Director of Miami-Dade County’s Division of Environmental Resources Management (DERM). “Florida’s coral reefs, and in particular Florida’s Southeast Florida Coral Reef Ecosystem Conservation Area, are critical to the state’s and Miami-Dade County’s tourism economy, vibrant ecosystems, and shoreline resilience. This legislation will focus renewed federal attention on the challenges facing coral reef ecosystems by providing increased funding each year, directing more money to local agencies for critical projects, and establishing an emergency fund to help agencies respond to coral threats, among other types of support for reef resilience. Given recent action by the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners per Resolution R-1194-18 urging federal and state regulators to increase their efforts to investigate and solve the disease outbreak killing coral along the Florida reef tract, Resolution R-1091-17 urging the Florida Legislature to enact legislation that would create the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Ecosystem Protection Area, and Resolution R-523-17 urging President Donald Trump and the US Congress to reauthorize the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000, Miami-Dade County applauds the Senator for addressing the issue of coral reef health and resilience and fully supports the passing of the Restoring Resilient Reefs Act into law.”
“Saltwater recreational fishing contributes $68 billion annually to the economy, supporting 472,000 jobs, and coral reefs are essential habitat for many recreationally important fisheries,” said Mike Leonard, Vice President of Government Affairs for the American Sportfishing Association. “However, our reefs are in significant decline due to a variety of stressors, including deteriorating water quality, changing ocean conditions, invasive species, coral bleaching and coral disease. We appreciate the efforts of Senators Rubio and Schatz to reauthorize the Coral Reef Conservation Act to actively address the urgent needs of these important ecosystems.”
“The FKCFA commends Senator Marco Rubio for recognizing the value of healthy reef habitat to Florida’s commercial fishing and seafood industry, tourism and our coastal communities throughout the Florida Keys,” said Captain Bill Kelly, Executive Director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association. “The Senator’s Restoring Resilient Reefs Act provides opportunities for stakeholders to engage in the coral conservation process and will lead to increased scientific information that can be used to effectively manage our coral habitat for future generations.”
“Our aquariums are proud to support the Restoring Resilient Reefs Act. We thank Senator Schatz and Senator Rubio for introducing this important ocean conservation legislation, which will advance critical protection and restoration efforts for coral reefs—some of the most diverse, valuable, and fragile ecosystems on Earth,” said Dr. Amber Whittle, on behalf of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership. “Like all marine life, ocean corals are under increasing threat, especially from warming temperatures and acidification. This bill represents U.S. leadership in sustaining ocean resources for future generations.”
“Worldwide, coral reef ecosystems are under enormous threat, and leadership has never been more necessary,” said Dan Ashe, President and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. As an organization that is currently assisting in the Florida Reef Tract rescue initiative, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and its 236 accredited zoo and aquarium members applaud Senators Rubio and Schatz and stand with them in supporting this crucial legislation.”
"The Florida Aquarium is proud to support the Restoring Resilient Reefs Act,” said Roger Germann, President & CEO of The Florida Aquarium. “The Aquarium's successful and unique coral restoration program, focused on growing genetically diverse corals, is in perfect sync with the bill's goals. We thank Senators Rubio and Schatz for introducing this legislation and look forward to supporting its passage."
Environmental Advocacy Groups
"Coral reefs are struggling under a variety of threats, not the least of which is warming water due to human-caused climate change,” said Andres Jimenez, Senior Director for Government Affairs for Citizen’s Climate Lobby. We have a responsibility to bring this natural wonder back from the brink of extinction and restore it to health, and the Restoring Resilient Reefs Act will help make that happen. We are happy to see bipartisan support of this important effort in both chambers of Congress."
“Coral reefs are treasures of our nation, but they are rapidly disappearing from a range of threats,” said Rachel Silverstein, Executive Director of Miami Waterkeeper. “We are happy that this bipartisan bill aims to restore this diverse resource and the clean water economy that comes with it.”
“We’re thrilled to see Senators Rubio and Schatz take a leadership role on coral health,” said Jeff Watters, Senior Director of Government Relations at Ocean Conservancy. “By developing a resilience strategy and authorizing federal funds for coral reef resilience work, the Restoring Resilient Reefs Act is a big step forward in the effort to restore and conserve our coral reefs. Coral reefs provide critical habitat for marine wildlife and valuable tourism opportunities, supporting our coastal communities and a healthy marine ecosystem. Ocean Conservancy is pleased to support this legislation.”
"The Restoring Resilient Reefs Act of 2019 is an important and timely development that has the support of Coral Restoration Foundation,” said Dr. R. Scott Winters, CEO of the Coral Restoration Foundation. The integrated approach proposed by this important bill reflects the complex nature of the issues facing our Nation's coral reefs and the communities that depend on them. We applaud the Senators' vision in addressing this urgent issue with such rigor, and we would urge policymakers to understand that this is a critical step in the right direction, heralding new hope for an ecosystem - and those that depend upon - that currently faces an uncertain future."
"Our coral reefs are in a state of crisis,” said Dr. Andréa G. Grottoli, President of the International Coral Reef Society. “The impact of climate change and local pollution are decimating the very foundation of these incredible ecosystems. The Restoring Resilient Reefs Act is a step in the right direction for protecting our coral reefs, and the numerous economic, cultural and ecological benefits they provide. The future of our coral reefs and of our coastal communities depends on legislation like this one."
“The introduction of the Restoring Resilient Reefs Act is an extremely
important step in providing the federal resources required to help address these issues,” said Dr. Richard E. Dodge, Dean of the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography at Nova Southeastern University. “The situation is urgent, and appreciations are due Senator Rubio and Senator Schatz for their diligent work to reauthorize the Coral Reef Conservation Act and to give these priceless ecosystems the attention that they
require and deserve.”