The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) participated in the 2020 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) virtual trade show. Recognizing the importance of environmental stewardship and awareness of Florida’s natural resources when fishing and recreating, DEP readily adapted its exhibition to a virtual interface. In addition to a virtual booth on statewide efforts to conserve and restore Florida's Coral Reef, DEP hosted an online panel on Thursday, July 16.
The panel, consisting of DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein, Chief Science Officer Dr. Thomas Frazer and other experts, focused Florida’s Coral Reef conservation efforts and its global impacts. Nearly 150 people logged into the DEP's online panel on the day it aired.
"Florida’s Coral Reef provides countless flood protection benefits to buildings and is a key tourism driver for our state," said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. "DEP works every day to protect this vital resource, and it was exciting to educate attendees on how our state is coming together to protect this national treasure."
“DEP and its partners are committed to protecting Florida’s coral reefs while simultaneously ensuring access to the resources that healthy reefs provide,” said Chief Science Officer Dr. Thomas Frazer.
“Addressing the immediate and longer-term drivers of coral reef degradation will be central to our success.
We understand the urgency of the problem and are generating the science necessary to guide effective policy and management decisions moving forward.”
"Responding to the many challenges facing Florida’s Coral Reef will require significant scaling up of coral propagation and restoration efforts and substantial investment," said Gil McRae, Director, Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. "Fortunately, there is a large network of committed partners from government, academic, private and non-profit sectors that stand poised to meet these challenges."
“We need to make preserving and restoring Florida’s Coral Reef a national priority. Not just because we should, but because we can," said Jim Ritterhoff, Executive Director/Co-Founder, Force Blue, Inc.
"The state of Florida is committed to protecting coral reef habitats and wherever possible, restoring the corals," said Joanna Walczak, Southeast Region Administrator, DEP Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection . "With the help of our partners, we can execute in-water disease intervention,
rescue healthy corals ahead of the disease line and continue developing innovative solutions to propagate corals and restore reefs together."
"While state and federal agencies continue to address a variety of
serious threats to Florida's Coral Reef, it's important for individuals to know that they can help too," said Sarah Fangman, Superintendent, Florida Keys
National Marine Sanctuary. "Use mooring buoys to prevent anchor
damage. Take the free, online course specific to the unique boating
conditions in the Florida Keys. Join a marine debris cleanup. Working together, we can all be part of the solution."