Revised NOAA FY97 South Florida Initiative
Coral Health and Monitoring Program
coral at aoml.noaa.gov
Thu May 16 10:55:53 EDT 1996
Attached is a slight revision of NOAA's FY97 South Florida Initiative.
The biggest changes are to Section 4., Restoring South Florida's Coral
NOAA ESSENTIAL TO RESTORING SOUTH FLORIDA'S ECOSYSTEM
FY 1997 ($ 6 M)
THE HEALTH OF FLORIDA BAY AND THE FLORIDA KEYS IS DIRECTLY LINKED TO THE
HEALTH OF THE EVERGLADES. Before 1900, freshwater flowed from the
Kissimmee Lakes through the Everglades and into Florida Bay and coastal
waters, where it mixed with seawater and moved onto the Florida Keys coral
reefs. This created some of the world's most productive and diverse
coastal habitats. From the Everglades grasslands to Florida Bay seagrass
beds and Florida Keys coral reefs, the areas are an ecosystem linked
together by the flow of freshwater.
WATER FLOW IN SOUTH FLORIDA HAS BEEN DRAMATICALLY CHANGED AND THE
ECOSYSTEM IS DETERIORATING. Over the past 50 years, canals, dikes and
development for agriculture and a growing population changed the
direction, quantity and quality of freshwater flow. These changes
threaten South Florida's productive inland and coastal habitats, and the
economies and people who depend on them.
Like the Everglades grasslands, South Florida's coastal habitats are in
jeopardy. Coastal waters have changed: increased salinity, increased
nutrient concentrations, increased pesticide concentrations, decreased
clarity, and changes in water flow. These changes are contributing to
ecological deterioration including:
=09Dieoffs of seagrasses,
=09Declining fish and shrimp populations,
=09Increasing blooms of atypical phytoplankton and algae,
=09Dieoffs of sponges, critical habitat for spiny lobsters (most
=09=09valuable fishery in Florida),
=09Dieoffs of mangroves, and
=09Deterioration of Florida Keys coral reefs, the third
=09=09largest barrier reef in the world.
Large areas of seagrasses in Florida Bay have been dying since the summer
of 1987. Seagrass habitats are essential nursery areas for many
commercial and recreational fisheries species. The loss of seagrasses has
contributed to declines in seagrass-dependent species such as pink shrimp,
with significant economic impacts on South Florida's commercial and
NOAA IS ESSENTIAL TO THE RESTORATION EFFORT IN FY 1997. The South Florida
Ecosystem Restoration is an integrated effort among federal, tribal, state
and non-governmental partners to halt continued degradation of the South
Florida's ecosystem and restore the ecosystem's valuable functions and
services from the Kissimmee Lakes through the Everglades, into Florida Bay
and the Florida Keys.
The restoration effort is depending on NOAA in FY 1997 for research,
monitoring, assessments and coastal management. NOAA's effort is (1) the
only portion entirely devoted to restoring coastal components of the South
Florida ecosystem, and (2) designed to evaluate the effects of "upstream"
restoration actions on coastal resources. NOAA requires $ 6 million new
funds in FY 1997 to fulfill these commitments necessary for successful
restoration of land and coastal parts of the ecosystem. This is a
practical, relatively small investment in comparison to the large amount
of federal, state and local dollars that will be spent to restore
"upstream" portions of South Florida's ecosystem.
NOAA HAS IMPORTANT RESPONSIBILITIES IN SOUTH FLORIDA. NOAA is responsible
for management of coastal resources in South Florida including fisheries,
protected species and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. NOAA's
unique science, management, remote-sensing and on-site capabilities
provide information on coastal, ocean and atmospheric conditions critical
to the entire restoration effort.
NOAA will contribute the information and tools essential to successful
restoration of inland and coastal areas by focusing on four areas of
1.ESTABLISH INTEGRATED COASTAL MONITORING IN FLORIDA BAY
AND THE FLORIDA KEYS NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY
=09(National Ocean Service $ 1.7 M)
Goal:Establish a long-term integrated ecosystem monitoring program and
information base on Florida Bay and Florida Keys to enable managers and
scientists to assess ecosystem conditions and the effectiveness of
Description: This initiative will develop and implement the first
integrated ecosystem monitoring program for South Florida's coastal and
marine areas. The project is designed to inventory, integrate and build
on the existing, uncoordinated coastal monitoring efforts. Initial
efforts with the State of Florida have already inventoried, placed in a
geographically-referenced computer information system and made Internet
accessible more than 250 existing coastal monitoring programs.
2.RESTORE SOUTH FLORIDA'S LIVING MARINE RESOURCES
=09(National Marine Fisheries Service $ 1.7 M)
Goal:Restore and sustainably manage South Florida's fisheries, sea
turtles, marine mammals and their habitats and other coastal resources
utilizing the best possible research, monitoring and management tools.
Description: Florida Bay seagrasses, delta, mangroves, keys and the coral
reef communities are critical habitats for commercial and recreational
fisheries, sea turtles, marine mammals, and other living marine resources.
All of these habitats are showing signs of stress and experiencing
dieoffs. While some of the stresses affecting these critical habitats are
known (e.g., fishing, nutrient increases), others are not well understood.
The ability to recover from these stresses, and the effects of current
restoration efforts directed at the Everglades need to be determined.
This initiative will provide research, management and education urgently
needed to halt the loss and restore these habitats. It will provide
information to evaluate the effects of current restoration efforts, and
provide sustainable solutions for the species that depend on coastal
habitats. Activities include:
Collect information on the effects of changes in South Florida on sea
turtles and marine mammals to develop adequate multi-species management
Use information from monitoring programs to assess the status, trends
and management needs of fisheries and other living resources of the
Florida Key's coral reef system.
Use information on resource status and trends in models to predict
outcomes and implement restoration and management of critical fisheries
habitats (e.g., reef areas and Florida Bay seagrasses).
3.DETERMINE CAUSES OF DECLINES AND EFFECTS OF RESTORATION
ON COASTAL RESOURCES
=09(Coastal Ocean Program $ 1.7 M)
Goal:Provide information and models to predict possible outcomes and best
solutions for restoration efforts in South Florida. The goal is to better
predict how restoration will proceed and what actions will reverse the
decline in coastal resources and allow sustainable use in the future.
Description: The initiative will support research and modeling by NOAA
and its academic partners on the natural and human components of South
Florida's ecosystem. Much of this information and predictive capability
is currently not available. The information and predictions will be used
to evaluate the effects of the restoration and human demands on the
coastal communities, resources and economies that depend on them.
Using social, economic and ecological information, models will be
developed to predict ecosystem (including human) responses to various
human impacts and natural changes including:
Characterize human and natural stresses and responses in Florida Bay
and the Florida Keys.
Develop an ecosystem model to predict impacts and guide management of
coastal resources and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
4.RESTORING SOUTH FLORIDA'S CORAL REEFS
=09(NOS, NMFS, COP $ 1.0 M)
Goal:Portions of the Florida Key's coral reef system are deteriorating.
Fishing, pollution and other human impacts have impacted portions of the
reef, but many of the causes of reef degradation are unknown and there is
little capacity to monitor reef status. This initiative will focus on
restoring and sustainably using South Florida=92s fragile coral reefs.
Description: To adequately fulfill its restoration and management
responsibilities for this special reef tract, NOAA must increase its
efforts to monitor coral resources, manage human uses and determine the
effectiveness of these efforts. Using remote-sensing technology and
volunteer assistants for on-site monitoring, this initiative will:
Build on existing, but limited coral reef monitoring efforts to
complete the system required to provide long-term information on the
health of the reef system.
Translate and provide this information to coastal managers.
Build public understanding, participation and local support for
sustainable use of the coral reef tract.
Establish a cooperative training and research program to exchange
information and build capacity for effective coral reef management at
SOUTH FLORIDA'S ECONOMY DEPENDS ON HEALTHY COASTAL ECOSYSTEMS: Large
portions of South Florida's economy are dependent on healthy coastal
habitats like Florida Bay and the Florida Keys. Deterioration of South
Florida's coastal resources will significantly impact these industries,
the people that depend on them, and the people who come to use them from
all over the United States.
Healthy coral reefs, a healthy Florida Bay and clean coastal waters are
the foundation of a healthy economy. More than 3 million tourists/year
from all over the U.S. spent an estimated $1.3 billion in 1991. Florida's
coral reefs are the #1 diving destination in the world, attracting more
than 1.2 million divers per year. Divers bring over $ 220 millon/year
into the economy. The asset value of water related recreation in the Keys
is estimated at $ 22 billion.
Commercial fishing is an important part of South Florida's economy. In
good seasons, for example, pink shrimp catches produced over $ 120
million/year. Spiny lobster catches produced $ 24 million/year.
Recreational fishing produces more than 23,500 jobs. The economic value
of Florida Bay fishing trips exceeds $ 9.0 million per year.
BENEFITS OF INVESTING IN NOAA'S STRENGTHS: NOAA brings a unique suite of
science and management capabilities to the South Florida ecosystem
restoration effort through its expertise in coastal and atmospheric
research, predictive modeling and resource management. Successful
restoration and sustainable stewardship of South Florida's valuable
coastal resources will not be possible without application of NOAA's full
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
David Jansen, Office of Legislative Affairs=09=09(202-482-4981)
Matthew Stout, Office of Public and Constituent Affairs=09(202-482-6090)
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