What is “Our Florida Reefs”?

OUR FLORIDA REEFS is a community planning process for southeast Florida’s coral reefs. The effort brings together the community of local residents, reef users, business owners, visitors and the broader public in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Martin counties to discuss the future of coral reefs in this region.

What is the goal of OUR FLORIDA REEFS?

The primary goal of this process is to bring together the southeast Florida community to develop recommendations that can become part of a comprehensive management strategy that balances use and protection of coral reefs. With such recommendations, the strategy can reflect the diverse interests of all communities and ocean users in the region, while ensuring healthy coral reefs now and into the future.

Why do we need a planning process for southeast Florida’s coral reefs?

No management plan covers the entire region of southeast Florida’s coral reefs. Southeast Florida’s population and popularity keeps growing, so planning is essential to ensure future enjoyment of our reefs by all people.

Who can participate in this process?

Everyone who visits the beach, enjoys our ocean, or has an interest in coral reefs is welcome to participate in a variety of ways. There is no restriction or minimum requirement to participate, and all opportunities are free and open to the public. Your personal knowledge about our reefs is very important to this process.

How can I get involved in Our Florida Reefs?

You can get involved in a variety of ways during this multi-year process. You are invited to attend Community Working Group meetings where you can watch the Our Florida Reefs Working Groups develop management recommendations to better balance the use and protection of  our reefs for the future. You can also provide updates to your community, group, or club as a Reef Champion. Also, you are invited to  join the community at OUR FLORIDA REEFS  by submitting comments, connecting with other community members, exploring spatial information, and to contributing your personal knowledge about our reefs using our online mapping tool. The marine planner provides a direct way for you to contribute your local knowledge about our reefs through your stakeholder representative.

What are the main steps and timeline for this process?

The OUR FLORIDA REEFS process began with a series of community meetings in June of 2013 to introduce the process and southeast Florida coral reef knowledge to the public as well as recruiting Community Working Group Members (CWGs). CWGs meet monthly starting in March of 2014 in order for stakeholder representatives to craft recommendations using the best available science to balance use and protection of southeast Florida’s coral reefs. The draft list of recommended management actions were be reviewed by the public at a series of community meetings in January and February of 2016. The CWGs met again until June of 2016 to review and integrate comments from the public and finalize their list of recommended management actions. Now that the process is complete, the appropriate agencies are working to approve and implement these community-based recommendations.

Check out the Our Florida Reefs Process Graphic for a more detailed understanding of the timeline.

Why does OUR FLORIDA REEFS focus on a four-county region, without including the Florida Keys?

Although the reefs of Florida are one connected system, they have not been managed that way. The northern one-third of Florida’s reef system, stretching across a four-county region, has no comprehensive protection or management. The southern two-thirds of Florida’s reefs are managed within: Dry Tortugas National Park, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and Biscayne National Park. The reefs north of Biscayne National Park in Miami-Dade County continue along the coastline for 105 miles to St. Lucie Inlet in Martin County. Even though many more people live nearby, this northern coral reef region has not received the same kind of attention as the southern region.

How can I participate in a Community Working Group?

Working Group Members represent a wide range of different interest groups who each have a stake in the wellbeing of our coral reef communities (fishers, divers, environmental NGOs, etc.). The application period for Community Working Group members has already passed, however, observers are still invited to attend all community working group meetings as community observers, where they will have the opportunity to provide feedback to their Working Group representative. They are also invited to share information within their communities and to join the online discussion at ourfloridareefs.org.

Who is coordinating OUR FLORIDA REEFS?

OUR FLORIDA REEFS is a community planning process of the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI), a collaborative, local effort started in 2004 to understand and protect our coral reefs for the benefit of all. SEFCRI is coordinated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (FDEP) Coral Reef Conservation Program. You are welcome to ask questions and discuss the planning process with any SEFCRI partner or FDEP staff member. OUR FLORIDA REEFS is funded by a state and federal partnership through a cooperative agreement between the Coral Reef Conservation Programs of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and FDEP. Additional support is provided by a FDEP Coastal Zone Management Grant and in-kind support from SEFCRI partners.

I have more questions. Who can I contact?

Send us an email at

OUR FLORIDA REEFS is a community planning process of the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI), a collaborative, local effort started in 2004 to understand and protect our coral reefs for the benefit of all. SEFCRI is coordinated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (FDEP) Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP).