Each year, millions of people enjoy the exciting beach and offshore events on southeast Florida’s coasts, with many attending by boat. This may mean accidentally dropping an anchor on the fragile coral reefs below. One anchor might seem harmless, but it is not. Repetitive damages take their toll. Help keep our corals safe by anchoring in the sand or using public mooring buoys.
To report a vessel grounding, anchoring incident or other coral reef injury in southeast Florida (Miami-Dade to Martin County), use the Southeast Florida Action Network (SEAFAN) online report form or call 1-866-770-SEFL (7335).
For large vessel groundings requiring immediate attention, please call the 24-hour emergency groundings cell phone at 786-385-3054
In recognition of Florida's unique coral reef systems and their importance to the economy, the Florida Legislature enacted Section 403.93345, F.S., titled the Florida Coral Reef Protection Act (CRPA), effective July 1, 2009. The CRPA was created to increase protection of coral reef resources on submerged lands off the coasts of Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties.
Under this law, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) may assess civil penalties and damages relating to a coral reef injury event. A civil penalty fee schedule is outlined in the CRPA for anchoring a vessel on a coral reef or any other damage to a coral reef totaling: a) less than or equal to 1 square meter (m2), $150; b) more than 1 m2, but less than or equal to 10 m2, $300 per m2; and c) more than 10 m2, $1,000 per m2. Damages may also be assessed in the form of compensatory mitigation on a case-by-case basis, which is intended to compensate for the damages and lost ecosystem services.
Reef Injury Prevention and Response Program
As the state's lead trustee for coral reef resources, the DEP Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) is charged with response and recovery for coral reef injuries on sovereign submerged lands. The DEP CRCP Reef Injury Prevention and Response Program is responsible for leading response to, and management of, coral reef and hardbottom injuries resulting from direct impacts such as vessel grounding, anchoring and cable drag events. DEP CRCP has jurisdiction over the northern third of the Florida Reef Tract, from the northern border of Biscayne National Park in Miami-Dade County to the St. Lucie Inlet in Martin County.
A primary goal of the Reef Injury Prevention and Response Program is to develop and implement management actions that prevent coral reef injuries associated with commercial and recreational vessels using tools created through the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative and other local action strategies. When damages to reef resources do occur, the goal is to ensure that appropriate and adequate restoration and/or mitigation is carried out on impacted coral reef resources and that those responsible for damages are held accountable.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.