America's “Great Barrier Reef” needs your help

This year, the Florida Reef’s protections could get a long-overdue update that could help it survive.

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Jake Taber
Content Creator

Author: Jake Taber

Content Creator

Started on staff: 2017
B.A., cum laude, Tufts University

As a member of the Creative Team for the Public Interest Network, Jake writes and designs materials for Environment America and its network of state-based organizations. Jake got his start with Environment America's program team as a Clean Energy Associate, where he worked with students to organize campaigns for 100 percent renewable energy at dozens of campuses across the country, and helped win commitments from Boston University and Vanderbilt University. Jake lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he enjoys cooking, reading and attempting to learn woodworking.

It's been called "America's Great Barrier Reef": It's one of the largest coral reefs in the world, and the only living barrier reef in the continental U.S.

But the Florida Reef, an incredible ecological treasure, is hurting: It’s lost as much as 90 percent of its original coral cover over the past 40 years.

Reefs are essential to the health of our oceans, sheltering countless species. But thanks to the effects of climate change, they're more vulnerable than ever to disease, pollution and overfishing.

Right now, officials are updating the Florida Reef's protections for the first time in decades -- and we’re working to make sure those protections are effective by supporting the strongest possible proposal on the table. 

To say the Florida Reef is rich with life is an understatement. Five different kinds of sea turtles, seven kinds of dolphins, whales, manatees and hundreds of species of tropical fish make their home here.

All these creatures depend on the health of the reef's hundreds of miles of coral and island mangroves. And those ecosystems are under tremendous strain.

Global warming pollution is acidifying and warming our oceans, making them more susceptible to the other things that plague reefs: coral diseases, runoff and pollution from nearby cities, and overfishing.

That's why, as we deal with climate change, we need to keep reefs as protected as possible.

Most of the Florida Reef lies within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, an ocean sanctuary established 30 years ago. This year, the sanctuary's protections will get a long-overdue update.

In 2019, NOAA proposed four options for new protections, varying in strength and scope. The agency took public comments, and now it's working on an updated proposal, which it'll release in 2021.

As NOAA deliberates, let's make sure it hears from us. 

 

Save the Florida Reef

Urge NOAA to recommend the strongest option for protecting the Florida Reef.

Jake Taber
Content Creator

Author: Jake Taber

Content Creator

Started on staff: 2017
B.A., cum laude, Tufts University

As a member of the Creative Team for the Public Interest Network, Jake writes and designs materials for Environment America and its network of state-based organizations. Jake got his start with Environment America's program team as a Clean Energy Associate, where he worked with students to organize campaigns for 100 percent renewable energy at dozens of campuses across the country, and helped win commitments from Boston University and Vanderbilt University. Jake lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he enjoys cooking, reading and attempting to learn woodworking.