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DEP 101: Florida Coastal Office

The Florida Coastal Office manages more than 4 million acres of submerged lands and coastal uplands. The office oversees 41 aquatic preserves and the Florida Coastal Management Program. Also, in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, FCO manages three national estuarine research reserves, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the Coral Reef Conservation Program.

Aquatic Preserves

Aquatic preserves are sovereign submerged lands protected under the Florida Aquatic Preserve Act of 1975. The 41 aquatic preserves in Florida total about 2.2 million acres. All but four of the preserves are located along the state's 8,400 miles of coastline in the shallow waters of marshes and estuaries.

The preserves protect bird rookeries, fish nurseries, freshwater springs, salt marshes, mangroves and seagrass meadows. These natural wonders offer a window into Florida's natural and cultural heritage. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy swimming, fishing, boating and paddling in designated areas.

Florida Coastal Management Program

The FCMP coordinates local, state and federal agency activities using existing laws to ensure that Florida's coast is as valuable to future generations as it is today. DEP is responsible for directing the implementation of the statewide coastal management program.

National Estuarine Research Reserves

The National Estuarine Research Reserves System conducts long-term research in designated estuarine ecosystems in order to make the best coastal science available to decision-makers. The long-term research works to address current and potential problems that could degrade coastal resources as a result of the increasing demand of resources. Additionally, this research is used to fill gaps of knowledge and guide natural resource conservation so estuaries can sustain multiple users in the future. 

Florida is home to three NERRs: Apalachicola, Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas and Rookery Bay.

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is one of 15 marine protected areas that make up the National Marine Sanctuary System. The Florida sanctuary protects 2,900 square nautical miles of waters surrounding the Florida Keys, from south of Miami westward to the Dry Tortugas.

Coral Reef Conservation Program

The CRCP coordinates monitoring and research, develops management strategies, and promotes partnerships to protect the coral reefs, hardbottom communities and associated reef resources of southeast Florida.

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Last Modified:
January 12, 2017 - 1:28pm

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