Florida’s Coral Reef benefits more than 6 million residents of Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Martin counties and 38 million annual visitors to this 5-county region.
Florida’s Coral Reef needs active management to maintain existing reefs, restore those that have been injured, and prevent additional impacts. Without conservation efforts, we are at risk of losing this incredible natural resource.
Florida has a long history of recognizing the importance of its coral reefs, beginning with the designation of Key West National Wildlife Refuge in 1908. Other important designations along Florida’s Coral Reef include:
- Ft. Jefferson National Monument (1935)
- John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (1961)
- Biscayne National Monument (1968)
- St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park (1969)
- Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary (1975)
- Cape Florida to Monroe County Line Aquatic Preserve (1975)
- Biscayne National Park (1980)
- Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (1990)
- Dry Tortugas National Park (1992)
- Southeast Florida Coral Reef Ecosystem Conservation Area (2018)
The federal and state agencies that are responsible for each of these marine managed areas preserve, protect and restore the natural environment and wildlife within each of their jurisdictions. Although each agency has slightly different management goals, programs, projects, authority and capacity to carry it all out, all reef management agencies work closely together to manage Florida’s Coral Reef holistically, as the water, corals and fish don’t know the boundaries of the various marine managed areas.
Conservation actions aim to reduce the main threats to Florida’s Coral Reef. These are guided by the management plan for each marine managed area, and periodic renewals of the plans require extensive public input and feedback. Conservation program and project examples include:
- Monitoring of coral, fish and water quality to determine status and trends in ecosystem health
- Conducting education and outreach to let residents and visitors know how they can recreate responsibly on Florida’s Coral Reef and help protect it
- Enforcement of existing rules and regulations to protect Florida’s Coral Reef
- Reducing land-based sources of pollution to improve the water quality on the reef
- Installing mooring buoys for boaters, divers and fishers to reduce anchor damage to Florida’s Coral Reef
To find out more about the different agencies and what they’re doing to help conserve Florida’s Coral Reef, visit: