Enhancing conservation in the Florida Keys

Healthy coral reef with fish

Written by Valerie Ramirez

On Aug. 22, chapter director of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and NOAA environmental hero, Lad Akins discussed the history of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the organizations that have formed to support its efforts.

Chief among these was the Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys, which recently merged with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation to establish the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Foundation chapter. 

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is a leading voice for U.S. protected waters, working with communities to conserve and expand those unique places for a healthy ocean, coasts and Great Lakes. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Foundation fosters stewardship of the Florida Keys’ marine ecosystem by engaging private, public and governmental entities as well as promoting advocacy and supporting Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary’s programs and partnerships.

The new chapter intends to directly support the initiatives of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and restore the health of the Florida Reef Tract. This includes funding, promoting and participating in coral reef ecosystem restoration efforts, community engagement, improvements to infrastructure as well as compliance. The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is also increasing awareness of the marine environment via social media campaigns and community outreach with the potential for volunteer dive programs.

FIU works closely with the sanctuary through a collaborative agreement to support education, monitoring, resource protection and overall operations. The two organizations leverage resources and ultimately strengthen marine science research and outreach efforts in the Florida Keys.

This event is part of the monthly Ocean Life lecture series, hosted in partnership with the Friends of the Key Largo Cultural Center and FIU’s Institute of Environment  at the Murray Nelson Government Center in Key Largo. Dr. Ligia Collazo-Vides, a marine botanist who focuses on the ecology of tropical marine macroalgae, leads the next Ocean Life Lecture on Feb. 7, 2020.