What ASA is Doing
KFF worked with DEP and the Legislature to secure state funding in the state budget for treatment of the outbreak, restoration strategies, and increased resiliency. We continue to work on ways to improve the overall focus of the coral program in the agency and encourage a multi-agency approach to addressing the issue. We have been encouraged by the support from Noah Valenstein, the current DEP Secretary, to move additional state funding and resources to address the coral disease outbreak and to direct the coalition of responders towards intervention and restoration actions. The state appropriated $10 million in its 2020 budget for coral disease response.
DEP has contracted with Kai Lorenzen of University of Florida to lead a fishing stakeholder engagement project. ASA has worked with organizers to populate the committee with relevant fisheries-related stakeholders including ASA’s Keep Florida Fishing Director, Gary Jennings. The Committee’s purpose is to “harness the capacity of the fishing community (fishing stakeholders and industry) to advance conservation of the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Ecosystem Conservation Area (ECA)” and will develop recommendations for consideration by SEFCRI.
At the federal level, ASA has advocated for reauthorization of the Coral Reef Conservation Program to address the urgent needs of our coral reefs. In August 2019, Senators Rubio, Schatz, Scott and Hirono and Reps Soto and Gonzalez-Colon introduced the Restoring Resilient Reefs Act (S2429 and HR4160) that authorizes five years of directed federal funding and technical assistance to states for the restoration and management of coral reef ecosystems, encourages innovative new Coral Reef Stewardship Partnerships among resource management agencies, research centers, and community stakeholders, and codifies and updates the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force.