Reefs within southeast Florida lie adjacent to four of the most densely populated counties of
Florida. Recreational use by local divers, fishers, and boaters
in these counties has tripled over the last 40 years.
Marine Debris is a widespread problem on southeast Florida coral reefs. Discarded
fishing and boating materials (e.g. fishing line, nets, and anchors), plastics (water bottles and bags),
household items (chairs) and hurricane related debris (roofing materials) are becoming increasingly more common
on southeast Florida reefs. Debris washed by rivers, discarded on beaches, or abandoned by fishers, divers, and
boaters can cause damage to sponges and corals, and entangle fish and other reef organisms,
resulting in injury or death to these animals. With population growth and human use of southeast Florida reefs
on the rise, establishing a program that can minimize the impacts of marine debris is a priority.
Net entangled on diffuse ivory bush coral
Photo: Lou Romano