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Southeast Florida Marine Debris Reporting and Removal Program

Blue and white web button for marine debris

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Palm Beach County Reef Rescue work together to coordinate a marine debris reporting and removal program for coral reefs in southeast Florida. The program covers the 105-mile northern extension of Florida's Coral Reef, from the northern boundary of Biscayne National Park to the St. Lucie Inlet.

These coral reefs are adjacent to Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties. The program encourages local divers and dive shops to report marine debris. Reef cleanup events are organized based on these reports to remove the debris.

Get Involved

  1. To report marine debris, complete an online report through SEAFAN or call 1-866-770-SEFL (7335).
  2. Participate in a shore-based beach cleanups or an underwater reef cleanups in the southeast Florida region. Select the buttons below to learn more about these cleanups in your area.

Blue and white web button for shore-based cleanupsBlue and white web button for underwater reefs cleanups

The Marine Debris Problem in Southeast Florida

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 past 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.

Goals and Objectives of the Southeast Florida Marine Debris Reporting and Removal Program

  • Create a database to store information reported on location, type and abundance of marine debris.
  • Raise awareness of marine debris and its assorted problems, and encourage prevention by advertising the program on the internet, with stickers and with educational brochures.
  • Organize a reef cleanup event in each of the four southeast Florida counties every year. Cleanups will involve the partnerships of the DEP, FWC, Palm Beach County Reef Rescue, local dive shops, dive charter operators, scuba clubs and local divers.
  • Record the quantity of marine debris removed from southeast Florida reefs during cleanup events.
  • Identify debris "hot spots" (e.g., where debris is concentrated), the reef areas that have been successfully cleaned and those to be targeted in subsequent cleanups.
  • Provide dive shop and dive charter operators with a "Marine Debris Removal Dive" pre-dive briefing prior to all cleanup events. The information will include proper marine debris removal techniques to ensure the safety of divers and reef organisms.
  • Raise awareness about the conservation of southeast Florida reefs.

Annual Southeast Florida Reef Cleanup Flyers

Reef Cleanup Summary Reports

Additional Resources

Last Modified:
February 9, 2024 - 3:42pm

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