Last week, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Associate Deputy Administrator Doug Benevento and EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary Walker visited the Florida Aquarium in Tampa to focus on coral reef restoration.
The Florida Aquarium tour, in coordination with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Sec. Noah Valenstein and Roger Germann, the president and CEO of the Florida Aquarium, provided an opportunity for discussions concerning the aquarium’s coral reef restoration work in South Florida. Also discussed were National Estuary Program activities that work to protect and restore water quality in the Tampa area.
“Water is the key environmental issue in Florida, and it is a priority at EPA. Seeing firsthand the coral reef restoration being done at the Florida Aquarium is a testament to the state’s hard work and a shining example of what can be accomplished through state and federal collaboration,” said Benevento. “Improving water quality is a priority for the Trump administration, and we will continue to work with our state and local partners to ensure that our natural resources are protected for generations to come.”
“Today’s look at the coral reef restoration work that the Florida Aquarium has directed is another great example of the effective partnership between federal, state and local partners to protect Florida’s natural resources,” said Walker. “We look forward to the sustainable environmental results that will help improve water quality and create a cleaner, healthier environment.”
“DEP and EPA have forged partnerships with the Florida Aquarium and other leaders that have been instrumental in the current efforts underway to protect Florida’s Coral Reef,” said Valenstein. “We know this work wouldn’t be possible without the commitment and support of leadership at the federal and state level, as well as collaboration of our partners. We are committed to continuing to strengthen our partnerships for protection of this critical natural resource.”
“Saving the Florida Reef Tract is a top priority of the Florida Aquarium and our coral scientists are achieving historic firsts in coral conservation thanks in part to our partnerships with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection,” said Germann. “Today’s meeting with Associate Deputy Administrator Benevento, EPA Region 4 Administrator Walker and FDEP Secretary Valenstein gives us, and the coral conservation community, tremendous hope because it’s clear their shared vision and commitment, along with the Governor’s, to solving the issues facing Florida’s coral reefs is a significant focus.”
Since 2017, EPA has provided $2.3 million for coral research on the Florida Reef Tract. Working with partners from federal, state and local agencies; universities, non-governmental organizations; and the coral community – EPA has provided grants for coral disease coordination and response; long-term coral monitoring (since 1995); and coral disease research. Additionally, the research from EPA’s South Florida projects will help support the Florida Aquarium and other coral restoration programs.