FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 9, 2005
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Florida Recognizes World Oceans Day

-- State protects coastal and marine resources --

TALLAHASSEE – Florida is joining the nation to celebrate World Oceans Day, recognizing the importance of the world’s oceans and the wealth of resources the waters provide. With more than 1,350 miles of coastline, Florida’s coasts are home to some of the world’s most renowned beaches and 25 percent of the nation’s environmentally-sensitive wetlands.

“From the Florida Keys to the white sandy beaches of the Gulf Coast, clean water is the foundation for Florida’s quality of life and ocean-based economy,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Colleen M. Castille. “Florida is committed to working with our partners to establish a framework for the long-term protection of critical ocean and marine resources.”

Today, on World Oceans Day, top environmental officials from the White House and five Gulf states are gathering in Naples to begin outlining a plan to strengthen protection for the Gulf of Mexico. Part of a three-day conference organized by Florida, representatives from Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas joined officials from the federal government to outline a shared strategy for improved coastal research, ocean education and water quality protection.

Recognizing the need to enhance science-based ocean management, Governor Jeb Bush is advancing state-of-the-art coastal observation technologies, expanding recreation and ocean education, conducting marine resource assessments and increasing protection for seagrass beds, fisheries and coral reefs through Florida’s Oceans Initiative. With a $2 million investment set aside by Governor Bush and the Florida Legislature, the Oceans Initiative is merging science and research with environmental management to safeguard Florida’s valuable ocean resources and sensitive coastal areas.

Drawing millions of visitors each year, Florida’s clear waters, world-class beaches and coral reefs support a $53 billion tourism industry, a $14 billion marine industry and a fishing industry that injects more than $8.5 billion a year into Florida’s communities. With the longest coastline in the contiguous United States, Florida is home to 41 aquatic preserves, three of the nation’s National Estuarine Research Reserves and one of the largest underwater refuges in the world.

To learn more about Florida’s Ocean Initiative, visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/news/2004/ocean/default.htm.

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