FWC’s panel on coral disease highlights partnerships, response efforts

At its May meeting near Tallahassee, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) hosted a panel of experts to discuss the multi-year stony coral tissue loss disease along the Florida Reef Tract.

“We are truly humbled by the work being done here. It takes your breath away to see the pace at which the disease is moving down Florida’s Reef Tract,” said Robert Spottswood, FWC Chairman. “But thanks to the partnership of those here today, we are just in the nick of time to combat this complex issue. All of us need to be thankful for these unprecedented, collaborative efforts.”

Panel guests included representatives from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, The Florida Aquarium, Mote Marine Laboratory, Coral Restoration Foundation and Smithsonian Marine Station Fort Pierce.

This outbreak is unique due to its large geographic range, duration and the number of species affected, but the response is unprecedented as well.

Florida’s Reef Tract is one of the largest reef systems in the world with 45 coral species. Florida’s corals are among the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth and provide habitats for fish and invertebrates. They also provide coastal protection from storms and have pharmaceutical benefits. Their economic impact in Florida is more than $7 billion annually.

For the presentation and summary memo, visit MyFWC.com.