[Coral-List] Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary Research Questions

Martin Moe martin_moe at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 24 09:27:55 EDT 2015

Hi Grace,
I’m glad that you, and hopefully other serious students ofour changing marine environments, are taking interest in the problems thatbeset our marine resources. I am a long time member of the Florida KeysNational Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council. I can give you a short answer tomost of your questions but like all complex issues dealing with a huge packageof science, conservation, exploitation, commercial, recreational, industrial,economic, residential, population growth, tourism, pollution and basically allthe environmental concerns produces by the effluent of our affluent modernsocieties; well, it’s complicated. I think the first thing you need to do, ifyou haven’t already done so, is to spend some time at the Sanctuary web site.You have dig deep into it, but you will find answers to many of your questionwithin it.
Some quick answers from my perspective.
Question 1. There are many scientists and laboratories thatconduct research on all aspects of the Florida Keys coral reefs and associatedecosystems. Our coral reefs are part and parcel of a great subtropical/tropicalecosystem that is affected by pretty much everything that goes on the Gulf ofMexico and the river runoff of the  southeastern United States, in particular the Everglades situation and the burgeoningpopulations of South Florida. Universities, NGOs, State and Federallaboratories all have research and restoration programs in operation.
Question 2. The FKNMS, State of Florida, and Federalagencies all have enforcement obligations with the laws, rules and regulationsdealing with commercial, recreational, boating marine resources, research andpollution issues in the Keys.
Question 3. There are many opportunities for publicinvolvement in the efforts to improve and maintain the natural resources of theFlorida Keys. In terms of policy, The Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC) takesthe lead in providing public interaction with the Sanctuary staff and administration.Below is the mission statement of SAC, and on the FKNMS website, there is muchmore information available. The Florida KeysNational Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council is an interactive liaison betweenthe residents and visitors of the Florida Keys and the staff and management ofthe FKNMS. In this role, and with the understanding that a healthy ecosystem isessential to the economy and quality of life in the Florida Keys, the SAC willpromote restoration and maintenance of biodiversity and ecological resiliencyin the South Florida environment. We will strive to achieve a vibrant,ecologically sustainable ecosystem and economy through application of the bestavailable science and balanced, conservation-based management. Question 4. There are “bushels” of scientific papers on theFlorida Keys environments. Again, many of these papers, such as a recent reporton the condition of the Florida Keys environment titled, "Condition Report 2011 for Florida Keys National MarineSanctuary" (an excellent summary of the marine environment of the Keys) are available on the FKNMS website under the heading of Sanctuary Science.
 On a personal note, I would like to reassure you that all isnot gloom and doom as far as the Florida Keys coral reefs and associated marineecosystems are concerned. Sure, there are great problems that we are dealingwith and solutions are not easy but we are making progress. In the last yearsthere has been a turn from monitoring declines in coral reef ecology toward workingon restoration of our ecosystems. The current reassessment of the boundaries,rules, and regulations of the Sanctuary (including marine protected areas) are focused on restoration andconservation of these unique and economically valuable ecosystems. Coralrestoration of branching corals has advanced very rapidly with many thousandsof coral colonies grown and replaced on reef substrates. Technology onrestoration of massive corals by skinning these dead coral boulders with tilesof living coral polyps that survive and over grow the massive coral skeletal structure,thus replacing a coral colony that took hundreds of years to grow in only a fewyears is also rapidly progressing. My contribution, as a retired marine biologist/aquacultureist,is working on the technology for culturing the keystone herbivore, thelong-spined sea urchin that once maintained the balance of grown between macroalgae and corals on the reefs of the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and Florida. andalso conditioned the substrate that allowed for settlement and survival ofcoral larvae and the larvae of sea urchins and other invertebrates as well. Thevast populations of these urchins, Diademaantillarum, died in a disease epidemic in 1983 and perhapsdue to changes in the benthic ecology (macro algae overgrowth and otherfactors) have not yet  recovered to ecologicallyfunctional populations. This is a difficult task but we are making progress.. So I encourage you to continue with your interest, studies,and commitment to the betterment of our marine resources. There is nothing greaterthan the promise, resolve, and dedication of youth to create solutions to the apparentlyinsurmountable problems that seemingly have always plagued the development ofhumanity. Martin Moe  

     On Sunday, March 22, 2015 7:43 AM, Grace Sowaske <sowaske at wisc.edu> wrote:

 ?Hi Coral Listers!

I am an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying wildlife ecology and environmental studies and I am currently starting a policy research project on the Florida Keys National Marine sanctuary. I thought I might get some great insight from you all and was hoping that I could ask some questions.

My working policy question is as follows: "How does science play a role in policy making regarding the preservation of the Florida Keys coral reefs." This is just a preliminary question, as after 5 hours of research, I am still finding new ways to formulate this question.

question 1: Is there a NOAA appointed laboratory that conducts research on this particular marine protected area?

question 2: Who enforces policies on the marine sanctuary, federal or state?

question 3: In the areas surrounding the sanctuary, are there opportunities for public involvement in the policy process?

question 4: Is there any outstanding scientific literature that may answer the bulk of my questions? or possibly a scientist who is very closely tied with the research conducted on the keys??

I have a lot more, but thought I would start with those! I am also interested in the economic impacts that no take areas have had on the Florida Keys fisheries but have yet to do some extensive research on this subject.

I also am required to preform an interview for this project, and am hoping that someone who is knowledgeable about marine protected area policy is part of the coral list! So if you are interested in being interviewed by me I would be extremely grateful. I am passionate about coral reefs and am glad I could convince a forestry student to work with me on a marine protected area project here in Wisconsin! I don't get the chance to delve into marine subjects here, so any chance there is, I take it! It does however leave me limited in resources concerning marine ecosystem science.

If you have any insight or knowledge about this specific marine protected area, or marine protected area policy in general, please feel free to contact me at my email address: sowaske at wisc.edu. I really appreciate your time in reading my questions and am hoping to get some great insight on these policies!


Grace Sowaske

sowaske at wisc.edu

Wildlife Ecology

UW Madison

Coral-List mailing list
Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov


More information about the Coral-List mailing list