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National Estuarine Research Reserves Highlights

Section 315 of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) establishes the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS).

NERR logo

Under the System, healthy estuarine ecosystems which typify different regions of the U.S. can be designated and managed as sites for long-term research, and used as a base for estuarine education and interpretation programs.

The System also provides a framework through which management approaches, research results, and techniques for estuarine education and interpretation can be shared and with other programs.

As stated in the implementing regulations, 15 C.F.R. Section 921.1, for the NERRS Program, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System has the following mission:

the establishment and management, through Federal-state cooperation, of a national system of estuarine research reserves representative of the various regions and estuarine types in the United States. National Estuarine Research Reserves are established to provide opportunities for long-term research, education, and interpretation.

The NERRS was established by the CZMA to help address the problem of current and potential degradation of coastal resources brought about by increasing and competing demands for these resources. Prior to establishment of the NERR system, the management of estuarine resources was inadequate, and scientific understanding of estuarine processes necessary for improving management was increasing slowly and without national coordination. There were no ready mechanisms to detect trends in estuarine conditions, or to provide information on these trends, the overall significance of estuaries, and possible solutions to the growing problems. The NERRS is one part of the solution for maintaining healthy coastal resources. NERRS research, education, and resource stewardship programs are tools that can help fill gaps in knowledge, and guide decision-making so that our estuaries can sustain multiple uses over the long term.

According to NERR regulations at 15 C.F.R. Part 921.1(b) the goals of the program are to:

  1. Ensure a stable environment for research through long-term protection of National Estuarine Research Reserve resources;
  2. Address coastal management issues identified as significant through coordinated estuarine research within the System;
  3. Enhance public awareness and understanding of estuarine areas and provide suitable opportunities for public education and interpretation;
  4. Promote Federal, state, public and private use of one or more Reserves within the System when such entities conduct estuarine research; and
  5. Conduct and coordinate estuarine research within the System, gathering and making available information necessary for improved understanding and management of estuarine areas.

Florida is a strong supporter of the NERRS system and its approach to coastal ecosystem management. The State of Florida has three designated NERR sites - more than any other state in the nation.

Florida's NERRs

Last updated: December 29, 2015

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