Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen introduced the Conserving Our Reefs And Livelihoods (CORAL) Act (H.R. 5771), which she authored, along with several co-sponsors to amend and reauthorize the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). Ros-Lehtinen’s bipartisan CORAL Act acknowledges that the environmental and economic benefits of coral reefs are intertwined.
NMMA reports that South Florida is home to the third largest barrier reef in the world, but coral cover has declined on the Florida Reef Tract and on many other Caribbean reefs by up to 80 percent since the 1980s. At least one recent scientific study has demonstrated that coral cover declined as fast in no-take reserves as in fished areas of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Poor water quality, warming seas, ocean acidification, coral diseases and invasive species do not respect marine reserve boundaries, and scientists regularly acknowledge these factors as the greatest threats to our reefs. Despite the ongoing decline of coral reefs, they remain an important economic engine in South Florida, contributing to billions in additional revenue generated in our region each year.