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Southeast Florida's Marine Debris Reporting and Removal Program

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and Palm Beach County Reef Rescue (PBCRR) work together to establish a marine debris reporting and removal program for southeast Florida's coral reefs. The program encourages local divers and dive shops to report marine debris, then reef cleanup events are organized to remove the debris.

Get Involved

  1. To report marine debris, complete an online report form through SEAFAN or call 1-866-770-SEFL (7335).
  2. There are also many other opportunities to volunteer for shore-based beach cleanups or participate in underwater reef cleanups in the southeast Florida region. Please click on one of the buttons below to learn more about these cleanups in your area.

Blue and white web button for shore-based cleanups Blue 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.

Program Goals and Objectives

  • 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, PBCRR, 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.

Program Location

The geographic region encompasses the 105-mile northern extension of Florida reef tract adjacent to four southeast Florida counties: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin. The program focus area includes reefs between the northern boundary of Biscayne National Park and the St. Lucie Inlet.

Debris Reports:

Additional Resources:

Last Modified:
February 27, 2019 - 8:50am

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