TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Today, Governor Ron DeSantis awarded $9.5 million through Florida’s Coral Reef Restoration and Recovery Initiative to bolster academic and private partnerships to safeguard Florida’s Coral Reef, which extends over 350 nautical miles from the Dry Tortugas to the St. Lucie Inlet. This funding will enhance coral recovery, including propagation and outplanting capacities critical to the health and longevity of Florida’s Coral Reef.

“Florida’s Coral Reef protects Southeast Florida against approaching storms and attracts visitors year-round,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Safeguarding our coral reef is important both environmentally and economically and we will continue to support projects that keep this natural resource healthy.”

Governor DeSantis established Florida’s Coral Reef Restoration and Recovery Initiative in Executive Order 23-06 to ensure the state develops infrastructure and capacity for coral propagation, technology, skilled workforce and logistics needed to support long-term recovery and restoration of Florida’s Coral Reef. More than $11 million was included in the Governor’s Focus on Florida’s Future budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2024–25 to continue Florida’s Coral Reef Restoration and Recovery Initiative.

“As we tackle environmental challenges, we understand that preparation and planning make all the difference,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “We are extremely thankful that this administration has prioritized environmental initiatives, because without them, we might be facing a different outcome for Florida’s Coral Reef.”

“Governor DeSantis’s bold leadership in addressing Florida’s environmental challenges continues to drive positive returns for our cherished natural resources, our beloved wildlife, and all Floridians” said Florida’s Chief Resilience Officer Dr. Wesley Brooks. “The Florida’s Coral Reef Restoration & Recovery Initiative aims to restore this critical natural infrastructure that provides billions of dollars in economic benefits and flood protection for southeast Florida communities. Because of the vision and resolve of the Governor and the Legislature, we are another step closer towards developing and sustaining a coordinated recovery effort for one of Florida’s most valuable, iconic, and vulnerable ecosystems.”

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and its partners are working to support the reef’s natural recovery processes through the large-scale cultivation, outplanting and monitoring of coral colonies that are more resilient to environmental stressors. Other DEP programs are simultaneously working to address local coral challenges such as water quality restoration, including in Biscayne Bay.

Awardees will perform specific functions pertaining to their funding requests, including:

  • Expansion of land-based propagation infrastructure and capacity including the rearing of species most impacted by Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease.
  • Expansion of research, in-water staging and development of propagation curriculum.
  • Expansion of coral restoration efforts, including off-shore grow-out nurseries.
  • Expansion of facilities to care for threatened coral species, such as Pillar Coral.
  • Expansion of yearly outplanting efforts.

Since 2019, Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature have devoted over $50 million specifically for coral reef recovery and restoration, which enabled Florida’s multifaceted response to this past summer’s event.

A list of all projects selected for Fiscal Year 2023–24 funding can be found here.




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