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State Facts

Miles of Coast: 8,436

Coastal Population (2000): 18,801,310

Lead Coastal Management Agency: Department of Environmental Protection

Approval Date: 1981

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Ocean and Coastal Management in Florida

Florida's Coastal Program

The Florida Coastal Program, approved by NOAA in 1981, is comprised of a network of eight state agencies and five water management districts, together enforcing 23 separate statutes. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection serves as the lead agency.  The Florida coastal zone is the entire state but the coastal zone is divided into two tiers. Only coastal cities and counties which include or are contiguous to state water bodies are eligible to receive coastal management funds.

Photo of Florida beach access

The Florida Coastal Program provides funding to improve public access. Projects range from building boardwalks to enhancing public safety through the provision of signs explaining the beach flag warning system and the danger of rip currents.


The Coastal Program works to protect coastal resources and help Floridians build and maintain vital communities. Through the Coastal Partnerships Initiative, the Coastal Program provides support for enhancing coastal access, promoting stewardship, protecting remarkable coastal places, and revitalizing working waterfronts. Waterfronts Florida, a program initiated in 1997 by the Coastal Program, provides support, training, innovative technical assistance, and limited financial assistance to communities striving to revitalize and renew interest in their waterfront district, areas which have a tradition of water-dependent vitality.

Florida's Coral Program

Florida is also a member of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force. As Florida's Coral Reef point-of-contact, the Department of Environmental Protection has participated in developing local action strategies to improve coral reef health. The Task Force has developed goals, objectives, and projects using a facilitated process, including public review and input, for four priority focus areas: land-based sources of pollution, fishing, diving, and other uses, lack of public awareness, and maritime industry and coastal construction impacts.

Florida’s National Estuarine Research Reserves

The Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve, a 246,000-acre natural area, is located in Franklin County approximately 90 miles southeast of Tallahassee and 80 miles east of Panama City. The Reserve was designated in 1979 and the lead management agency is the Department of Environmental Protection. Apalachicola Bay is one of the most productive estuarine systems in the Northern Hemisphere. Between 60 to 85 percent of the local population make their living directly from the fishing industry, most of which is done in reserve waters. The Reserve encompasses upland, floodplain, riverine, estuarine, and barrier island habitats and includes the lower Apalachicola River and Apalachicola Bay.

The Reserve’s research projects include red wolf reintroduction on Cape St. George Island, sea turtle nest protection and monitoring, and water quality monitoring. In addition, the Reserve has engaged in extensive benthic habitat mapping in Apalachicola Bay and has a highly sophisticated geographic information systems (GIS), which is used to educate coastal managers and visiting researchers about the area and its ecology. Other educational offerings include ongoing guest lectures for the community and coastal management workshops for environmental professionals.

The Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve, a 55,000-acre natural area, is divided by the city of St. Augustine. It stretches approximately 30 miles north and 30 miles south of the city, in St. Johns and Flagler counties. The Reserve was designated in 1999 and the lead management agency is the Department of Environmental Protection. The Reserve includes salt marsh and mangrove tidal wetlands, oyster bars, estuarine lagoons, upland habitat and offshore seas in Northeast Florida. The coastal waters of the Reserve are important calving grounds for the endangered Right Whale.

The Reserve is involved in research activities such as fisheries and invasive species monitoring and the development of a geographic information system and remote sensor network for environmental data. The Reserve also conducts a variety of education and outreach activities, including the Coastal Training Program, and has held workshops on prescribed burning and water quality.

The Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, a 110,000-acre natural area, is located at the northern end of the Ten Thousand Islands on the Gulf coast, five miles south of Naples. The site was designated in 1978 and the lead management agency is the Department of Environmental Protection. The Reserve represents one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America. The Rookery Bay and Ten Thousand Islands ecosystem is a prime example of a nearly pristine subtropical mangrove forested estuary.

The Reserve is actively involved in the restoration of altered ecosystems and efforts include the removal of abandoned roads, installation of culverts, removal of invasive exotic plants, and reestablishment of native plants. Research activities include analyzing the impacts of mosquito control aerial spraying, mangrove and oyster reef ecology, restoration ecology, estuarine fisheries, and nutrient cycling. The Rookery Bay Learning Center provides training and services to the communities of southwest Florida in one of the nation’s fastest developing areas. This outreach assists local management professionals, adult audiences, and elected officials make informed decisions about coastal resources.

Program Achievements

Florida Blueways

Florida Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program (MRRP)

Gulf of Mexico Alliance

Links

Florida Coastal Program — The website provides information on the Program’s activities including the Coastal Partnerships Initiative and Waterfronts Florida.

Florida Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Plan (2008) — Florida has developed a Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Plan that provides an assessment of priority conservation needs and guidance for nominating and selecting land conservation projects to OCRM's Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program competition.

Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve — The website provides information on the Reserve’s research, education, cultural resource protection, and stewardship activities

Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve — The Reserve’s website provides information on their research, education, and stewardship activities.

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve — The website provides information on the Reserve’s Learning Center, educational and professional training opportunities, and stewardship and research activities.

Florida's Waters, Ours to Protect — The website provides educational information on Florida watersheds.

Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology — This program brief describes investments in technology development and research projects for the state of Florida.

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary — National Marine Sanctuaries conserve, protect, and enhance the biodiversity, ecological integrity, and cultural legacy of important ocean and coastal areas. The website includes information about the Sanctuary's management, education and outreach, and research activities.

Marine Protected Areas — Search for marine protected areas in Florida.

Florida Nonpoint Program Conditional and Final Approval Documents — The Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program encourages better coordination between state coastal zone managers and water quality experts to reduce polluted runoff in the coastal zone.

Florida Coastal Program Evaluation (2008) — The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of federally approved state coastal management programs.

Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Evaluation (2007) — The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of estuarine research reserves.

Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve Evaluation (2007) — The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of estuarine research reserves.

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Evaluation (2011) — The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of estuarine research reserves.

Florida Coastal Zone Enhancement Program Assessment and Strategy (2011-2016) — Every five years, the Coastal Zone Management Act encourages states and territories to conduct self-evaluations of their coastal management programs to assess significant changes in the state’s coastal resources and management practices, identify critical needs, and prioritize areas for enhancement under the Coastal Zone Enhancement Program.

Florida’s Coral Reef Local Action Strategies — The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force identified the need for more focused action at the local level to reduce key threats to coral reefs and called for each of the states and territories with significant coral reef resources to develop local action strategies.

Contact Information for Florida’s Programs

Florida Coastal Management Program
Department of Environmental Protection
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard
Douglas Building, Mail Station 47
Tallahassee, FL 32399
(850) 245-2163

Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
350 Carroll Street
Eastpoint, FL 32328
(850) 670-4783

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
300 Tower Road
Naples, FL 34113
(239) 417-6310

Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve
9741 Ocean Shore Blvd
Town of Marineland
St. Augustine, FL 32080
(904) 461-4054