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For Immediate Release: Aug 23, 2001
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

ANCIENT REEF THREATENED BY DREDGE PROJECT

Reef Protection Report Released to Document and Save Northernmost Coral Reef


Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Cry of the Water, a coral reef monitoring group in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, has documented unexpectedly high coral cover and coral reef species diversity off the Broward County shoreline in an area that is now threatened by a massive dredge and fill project.

Prior surveys of the area have missed or underestimated the size and extent of large stands of staghorn coral reef and ancient coral colonies that are found close to shore. Further, early agency planning documents repeatedly stated that the 3 million cubic yard dredging project using 7 offshore dredge sites would not significantly impact the reefs of Ft. Lauderdale.

The best shallow reefs in Ft. Lauderdale are close to the burial area. Over 25 acres of shallow essential fish habitat, hard bottom and coral, will be directly buried and many more acres will also be indirectly affected. These reefs contain more then 1/2 of all the coral species found in the Caribbean and some coral colonies are between 500 and 1000 years old.

"Killing or damaging the last remaining good shallow reefs in east Florida by dredging and filling would by like dynamiting the last giant redwood stand" said Dr. Tom Goreau president of The Global Coral Reef Alliance.. "At a time when reefs are showing the effects of multiple stresses, any activities that would cause any further damage could irreversibly degrade the reef ecosystem and damage local fisheries."

These findings are documented in a new report by Cry of the Water and the Global Coral Reef Alliance titled "Reef Protection in Broward County, Florida" (see www.cryofthewater.org). Research teams conducted dives for the past year to map uncharted coral colonies in and near the impact area of the proposed dredge and fill project to temporarily widen local beaches. Ft. Lauderdale's remaining coral reefs can continue to support major diving and fishing industries, and protect the coast for years to come if not further damaged by massive dredging projects.

"It is time that we take a common sense approach to marine resource management in Broward County. To damage or destroy the reefs that currently protect the shore line will only move us further away from our goal of sustainable coastal management." said Dan Clark, President of Cry of the Water.

See the report, color photographs of the reef, and a short excerpt from the accompanying video.