A bipartisan congressional coalition, including both Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and Central Florida Representative Darren Soto, urged a response to recent Florida Reef coral bleaching. Corals in the Florida Reef Tract are under severe stress due to a marine heatwave which is causing coral bleaching.
According to these Florida Representatives of both political parties, the government has the authority to respond under emergency provisions of the Coral Reef Conservation Act (CRCA). The bipartisan group of Florida congressional members sent a letter to Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Richard Spinrad urging him to invoke the emergency provisions of their Restoring Resilient Reefs Act in response to ongoing coral bleaching.
“Florida’s coral barrier reef is an irreplaceable resource which must be preserved, and protected from this coral bleaching event. We ask that you use the resources and authorities available to you in a timely manner,” the letter stated.
The Florida Reef Tract is the third-largest coral barrier reef in the world, offering critical
ecological, economic, and ecosystem service benefits to South Florida, according to the letter.
Joining the Republican Senators and Democratic Rep. Soto were Representatives Maria Elvira Salazar (R), Neal Dunn (R), Jared Moskowitz (D), Scott Franklin (R), Gus Bilirakis (R), Anna Paulina Luna (R), Carlos Gimenez (R), John Rutherford (R), Kathy Castor (D), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D), Frederica Wilson (D), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D).
Orlando Democrat Rep. Maxwell Frost was not a signature on the letter.
Here is a copy of the letter from Florida members of Congress:
Florida is the only state in the continental U.S. to have extensive, shallow coral reef formation near its coast. The reef extends over 350 miles from the Dry Tortugas in the Gulf of Mexico to the St. Lucie Inlet in Martin County. Formations in Florida’s Coral Reef are very similar to those found in the Bahamas and Caribbean Sea.