Contact: Kelly Penton
The Nature Conservancy
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The Nature Conservancy Launches #RespectOurReef Campaign Encouraging Action to Conserve Florida’s Coral Reefs
Florida Reef Resilience Program and NOAA Join The Conservancy in the Effort
Digital/online campaign aims to engage local divers, anglers as frontline advocates for preserving and protecting South Florida’s coral reefs
Miami, FL (November 13, 2018) – The Nature Conservancy is announcing the launch of the #RespectOurReef campaign, an effort to raise awareness of the challenges facing Florida’s Reef System and encourage those who know and love the reefs, local divers and anglers, to pledge their support for a broad-based, grassroots effort to educate the public on how they can help preserve this beloved natural treasure. The Conservancy is coordinating the effort for the Florida Reef Resilience Program, a consortium of federal and state reef management agencies, nonprofit organizations, science and educational institutions committed to protection and sustainable uses of Florida’s coral reefs.
“The Florida Reef System is truly unique – the only one if its kind in the continental U.S. – and it is both an iconic Florida gem and an economic engine for coastal communities from Stuart to Miami to Key West,” said Chris Bergh, South Florida Program Manager, The Nature Conservancy. “With our reefs facing growing challenges like warming seas and careless visitors, we are engaging those who enjoy and rely on our reefs the most – Florida’s anglers and divers – as leaders who can take the pledge to protect the reef from further harm and ask others to commit to doing the same.”
The #RespectOurReef campaign officially went live this month and is employing a two-pronged approach to meet its goals. It includes a robust social media awareness campaign targeted at those who enjoy and benefit from the reef system off south Florida’s coast: recreational divers and anglers, commercial fishermen, charter captains and diving businesses that depend on a healthy reef for their income. The second piece of the campaign is a newly-created Respect Our Reef webpage (nature.org/respectourreef), which includes helpful tips for smart diving and fishing practices that will minimize human-caused damages to the reef system. Importantly, the new webpage includes an online pledge for divers, anglers and others to join the #RespectOurReef movement and help spread the word.
The campaign and website launch are made possible by funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).
“Now is the time for all of us to do our part to preserve this incredible natural treasure for the immediate future and for future generations,” said Dana Wusinich-Mendez, the Atlantic and Caribbean Management Team Lead for NOAAs Coral Reef Conservation Program. “We’re proud to collaborate with The Nature Conservancy on this critical public awareness campaign and look forward to engaging avid divers, anglers, and all who appreciate our reefs in the effort.”
The importance of the Florida Reef System can’t be overstated. The reef supports more than 70,000 Florida jobs and $6 billion in economic benefits for Floridians in Southeast Florida and the Florida Keys. Dive shops, fishing charter operations, hotels, restaurants, and other related businesses all depend on the unique natural system for their livelihoods, underscoring the urgency of protecting the 358-mile-long reef system from further manmade damage. With risks to the health of reefs caused by disease and bleaching, it is even more critical to act to minimize the dangers we can easily control.
To learn more about the Florida Reef Resilience Program, please click here.
For Respect Our Reef photos and video, please click here.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org/florida. In Florida since 1961, with support from our members, we have helped protect more than 1.2 million acres of vulnerable lands and waters across the state. We own and manage more than 52,000 acres in 25 Conservancy preserves in Florida.