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NOAA HOSTS CONFERENCE TO DISCUSS THE PRESENT AND FUTURE OF FLORIDA KEYS MARINE SANCTUARY CORAL REEFS
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will host a conference on August 19-21 in Key West, Fla. for scientists, policymakers and citizens to discuss the state of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary’s coral reefs and surrounding marine environment. The conference will work to set a roadmap for their recovery. The Florida Keys Sanctuary is managed by NOAA and the State of Florida. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Sponsored by the Florida Keys Sanctuary, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state of Florida, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, “Connectivity: Science, People and Policy in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary,” will bring together experts from around the world to compare the health of the Keys coral reef ecosystem to similar environments globally.
Through a series of panels, local experts will discuss topics such as water quality, Everglades’ restoration, coral health and diseases, fishing pressure, and Gulf of Mexico influences. Through this combination of global and local viewpoints, the sanctuary hopes to clarify which challenges facing the Keys coral reefs can be dealt with locally and which require broader action.
“We already know that our coral reef ecosystem faces many challenges. The Connectivity conference will offer a forum for prioritizing and addressing these threats,” said sanctuary Superintendent Billy Causey. “Our coral reef ecosystem fuels a $1.2 billion tourism economy, as well as the eighth most valuable commercial fishing industry in the nation. In the Florida Keys, our livelihoods and lifestyles depend on finding ways to sustain our oceans.”
The conference will take place at the Wyndham Casa Marina. The event is open to anyone interested, with a $25 registration fee to cover the cost of materials. There are additional costs for Friday dinner and Saturday lunch and field trips into the sanctuary on Saturday and Sunday.
“Our goal with this conference is to connect the science, people and policy of the Florida Keys, based on more than a decade of research, management and experience in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and bring in regional and international perspectives on issues that affect the sanctuary at those larger scales,” said Causey. “We hope to walk away from this conference with a road map to speed the recovery of our coral reef ecosystem.”
The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, designated in 1990, protects 2,896 square nautical miles of critical marine habitat, including coral reef, hard bottom, seagrass meadows, mangrove communities and sand flats. NOAA and the state of Florida manage the sanctuary.
NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, the sanctuary program manages 13 national marine sanctuaries and one coral reef ecosystem reserve that encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.
NOAA’s Ocean Service manages the NMSP, and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. NOS balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats, and mitigating coastal hazards.
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.