In a Consent Order Agreement, signed December 2016, Weeks Marine will pay FDEP, FWC, and Palm Beach County a total of $90,819.18 in fines and penalties for coral reef damage associated with last year’s Boca Raton beach renourishment project. The unfinished project is being resumed after it was suspended in 2016 at the beginning of sea turtle nesting season.

Reef Rescue’s monitoring of last year’s project was directly responsible for identifying and documenting damages to Breaker’s Reef caused by the dredging equipment. With the help of volunteers divers enough evident was collected to allow enforcement action to be taken against Weeks.

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Posted by: reefrescue | January 19, 2017

Coral Disease Decimating Reefs from Palm Beach to the Keys

Researchers ask the recreational diving community for help.

A coral disease outbreak first reported in Miami, July 2015 was observed to have spread to Broward County reefs by September 2015. During July 2016, FDEP and FWC asked recreational scuba divers to report coral disease observations in an effort to help delineate the extent of the problem.

While the cause of the disease remains unknown it continues to spread with reports as far north as Palm Beach County and south to the Keys. The Florida Reef Tract is the third longest barrier reef in the world stretching from the Dry Tortugas to Martin County and it is in serious trouble. Some reefs were found to show indications of infection rates of 100% with significant coral mortality.

Due to the size of the reef tract and extent of the problem coral reef researchers are turning to recreational divers to document conditions with photographs and report observations to a special FDEP website www.seafan.net .

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CBS NEWS: http://cbs12.com/news/local/diseased-coral-spotted-in-northern-palm-beach-county

Also see: https://reefrescue.wordpress.com/2016/07/08/coral-disease-alert/

https://reefrescue.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/divers-keep-an-eye-out-for-coral-disease-outbreak/

Posted by: reefrescue | December 7, 2016

End of Year Update

2016 was a busy and rewarding year for our beach renourishment water quality monitoring program. From Palm Beach to Boca Raton our on-water presence and aerial monitoring efforts helped keep dredging contractors in compliance with environmental permit requirements. With the help of Reef Rescue volunteers we were able to provide evidence to the State of Florida which enabled them to take enforcement action against Weeks Marine for damage to Breaker’s Reef in Palm Beach and at the beach renourishment site in Boca Raton.

Links to Reef Rescue dredging coverage:

https://www.scribd.com/document/331455672/R-S-Weeks-Incident-Assessment-Report .

http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/news/local/reef-off-palm-beach-partly-repaired-dep-in-talks-w/ns5Fm/ .

http://cbs12.com/news/local/reef-badly-damaged-off-coast-of-florida .

http://www.wptv.com/news/region-c-palm-beach-county/damage-to-coral-reef-off-palm-beach-reported .

http://cbs12.com/news/local/beach-project-continues-to-raise-reef-concerns .

https://reefrescue.wordpress.com/2016/05/17/fdep-initiates-enforcement-action-against-dredger-for-reef-damage/ .

https://reefrescue.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/palm-beach-silt-threatens-coral-reefs/ .

More beach renourishment and dredging work is planned for the winter of 2017 in Boca Raton. With your support we will be onsite to ensure contractor compliance.

Please consider making an end of the year, tax deductible, donation to Reef Rescue at: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/1434187 .

Your support of Reef Rescue allows us to continue the work of protecting the fragile South Florida coastal ecosystem.

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We have been working with beach divers in Broward County supplying them with GPS trackers that interface with their cameras allowing photos to be stamped with lat/long. This technique was useful in providing documentation of the recent coral bleaching and disease outbreak in that area. The divers are also using this system to capture before and after photos of near-shore reef impacts and burial from the Ft. Lauderdale truck haul beach projects.

We continue to work with a coalition of groups challenging the Port Everglades port expansion that has potential to seriously damage the local reefs as did the Deep Dredge project in Miami that buried 200 acres of reefs in the vicinity of the channel.

https://reefrescue.wordpress.com/2016/03/27/philippe-cousteau-onboard-with-south-florida-groups-opposing-port-everglades-dredging-plan/ .

https://reefrescue.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/port-everglades-expansion-a-coral-reef-apocalypse/ )

We are funded entirely by private donations. Field work, fuel, supplies, equipment and water analysis are expensive, so please help if you can!

Please consider making an end of the year, tax deductible, donation to Reef Rescue at: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/1434187 .

Your support of Reef Rescue allows us to continue the work of protecting the fragile South Florida coastal ecosystem.

Remember the best place to keep up with coral reef related issues is on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/PalmBeachCountyReefRescue/ and at the RR Coral Reef Blog: https://reefrescue.wordpress.com/

Posted by: reefrescue | August 19, 2016

Environmental groups sue to protect Fort Lauderdale coral

Environmental groups and the scuba trade association (DEMA) filed suit Wednesday to protect coral reefs from being damaged by a port expansion dredging project in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The groups who fought Port Miami’s massive channel dredge project filed the lawsuit to stop a similar expansion at Port Everglades that they say will damage threatened coral.

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Filing suit were Miami Waterkeeper, the Center for Biological Diversity, Florida Wildlife Federation, and the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association. The groups claim the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proposing the same faulty plan for the Port Everglades project that left 100’s of acres of coral dead in Miami.

“It’s incredibly reckless that the Corps is continuing to move forward without redoing its evaluation based on the dramatic sedimentation impacts that took place at Port of Miami,” Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

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Posted by: reefrescue | August 10, 2016

Reef Cleanup Dives

Join us August 13 & 14 for Palm Beach County’s largest 2016, reef cleanup event, 8 boats leaving from several county-wide locations. Jupiter Inlet, Palm Beach Inlet and Boynton Inlet.

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Check with dive operator for specifics.

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Posted by: reefrescue | July 8, 2016

Coral Disease Alert

FDEP and FWC are asking divers to report coral disease observations.

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There has been a re-emergence of coral disease in SE Florida and the Keys.  It seems that new locations are being affected and current reports include locations as far north as Jupiter.  White plague is still the most prevalent but is not the only disease.  Divers please keep a look-out for affected corals and report your observations to SEAFAN (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/programs/coral/seafan.htm).  If possible include pictures and location information.

Also see: https://reefrescue.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/divers-keep-an-eye-out-for-coral-disease-outbreak/

Reef Rescue volunteer divers document reef damage and request FDEP action.

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In their complaint Reef Rescue supplied the FDEP with vessel tracking documentation and reef damage photographs alleging the dredge RS Weeks dragged cables across coral habitat during the Easter weekend while being towed to Boca Raton to perform a beach renourishment project.

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Following weeks of in-water inspections FDEP in a May 6, 2016 letter, named Weeks Marine as the potential responsible party for having damaged Breaker’s Reef in Palm Beach and hardbottom damage in Boca Raton, FL. FDEP divers completed multiple in-water surveys between April 5 and April 28 that identified 1.4 miles of damage to Breaker’s Reef.

In a separate incident the DEP contends Weeks Marine damaged nearshore hardbottom coral habitat while performing the beach renourishment project in Boca Raton.

In their letter to Weeks the DEP stated ‘Pursuant to the CRPA [Coral Reef Protection Act], damage to coral reef may result in liability for damages and restoration, compensatory mitigation, and the judicial imposition of civil penalties. Additionally, the responsible party must cooperate with the Department to undertake damage assessment and primary restoration of the coral reef in a timely fashion.

Vessel track RS Weeks

Dredging Florida coral reef is ‘lunacy’ says Philippe Cousteau, grandson of Jacques.

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The same dredging plan that killed hundreds of acres of coral reef during Miami port expansion is planned for Port Everglades.

In a September 2015, letter to the Army Corps of Engineers’ (ACOE) a dozen South Florida conservation groups and businesses challenged the expansion plan for Port Everglades. Their letter cited reports from NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, USEPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection documenting coral mortality and damage to the reef habitat that far exceeded what had been permitted for during the Miami Port expansion dredge project. The Miami project smothered over 200 acres of coral reef as far as 3,000 feet beyond what had been anticipated.

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The ACOE has refused to reconsider their Port Everglades plan; the same dredging plan used in Miami.

In an effort to obtain additional documentation about the diversity of the fragile coral ecosystem potentially impacted by the Port Everglades dredging, Project Baseline teamed with coalition members to allow coral reef experts including Philippe Cousteau to witness this threatened reef first hand. On March 21 & 22, the state-of-the-art, 146’ oceanographic vessel  Baseline Explorer launched subs and divers  to complete multiple underwater surveys of the coral reefs surrounding the proposed Port Everglades dredging project.

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“For Florida to dredge its coral reefs for this project is lunacy”, declared Cousteau after manning a Baseline Explorer two man sub, where he witnessed firsthand Endangered Species Act protected corals and reef habitat found within the footprint of the dredging  project.

Following two days of reef survey’s Miami Waterkeeper’s hosted a reception and tour of the Baseline Explorer.

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Link to news article: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/24/florida-coral-reef-new-port-philippe-cousteau-fort-lauderdale

Link to coalition letter: https://www.scribd.com/doc/278354710/Reinitiation-Request-Port-Everglades-Expansion

Related stories:

Port Everglades Expansion – A Coral Reef Apocalypse

Emergency injunction sought to halt destruction of Miami’s endangered corals

“This is bullshit,” retired Biscayne Bay boat captain Dan Kipnis. “I’ve never seen a government agency bulldoze the environment and people who care about it and lie, cheat and steal like they have here.”

FDEP inspection finds significant damage to coral from Miami dredge project

 

Posted by: reefrescue | February 9, 2016

Reef Rescue Fundraiser

Force-E will be hosting a fundraiser for Palm Beach County Reef Rescue.  If you can’t make it to the event stop by your local Force-E Dive Center and donate. Every penny raised will go to Reef Rescue!

ForceE Fundraiser

Purchase your raffle tickets at any 3 of Force-E locations or at the BBQ.
Force-E will be raising money for Palm Beach Reef Rescue with a Raffle…..and guess what they will be raffling off….Go Pro Go Pro Go Pro!!!! That’s right Go Pro is donating items for this event so make sure to purchase your tickets for a chance to win!!!
Plus there are boat trips in the raffle, also a Force-E fill card and Force-E Classes!!!
Purchase your raffle tickets at any 3 of Force-E locations or at the BBQ and Win BIG!
***do not need to be present to win
***ticket prices 1 for $1, 6 for $5, 12 for $10, or an arm span for $20
Join us to help REEF RESCUE continue protecting our reefs.

Posted by: reefrescue | January 8, 2016

Palm Beach silt threatens coral reefs

Here is the text from the local CBS TV News story that was mysteriously taken down only hours after being aired.

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Advocacy group and Town of Palm Beach at odds over dredging project

Story by Melissa Howell/CBS12

PALM BEACH (CBS12) — A local advocacy group is pushing back against a dredging project in Palm Beach but officials aren’t saying they’ve done anything wrong.

The Phipps Ocean Park Beach Renourishment project began on Friday.  On Sunday, Ed Tichenor with the Palm Beach County Reef Rescue says silt, a thin grain of sand, was posing some serious threats to the coral reef.

“We found the silt level in the water high above the standard that’s required by the permit that the state issues so they were violating the permit,” says Tichenor.

The standard NTU for how much Silt, or turbidity, is allowed for the project is 29 but Reef Rescue found readings as high as 116.

“If the project generates too much silt, it could smother the coral,” says Tichenor.

But David Olin, an environmental consultant for the town of Palm Beach, says they too did testing and took action.

“We saw that the water quality was elevated.  We took samples and found that they exceeded the permit standards.  At that point, we notified the engineer and the dredge and we shut them down,” says Olin.

The coastal coordinator for the town of Palm Beach says this means no permits were violated and high numbers aren’t unusual at the start of a project. But Reef Rescue is pushing for a closer eye on the project from the state as it moves forward.

Rob Weber is the coastal coordinator for Palm Beach and says “we have our monitors that do all this work for us to ensure that the project doesn’t cause that harm that proven.”

Weber says the cost to stop dredging is already figured into the $16.9 million budget for the project.  Planners say the number one priority is the environment.

The project will take a little over two months to complete and the town says it will continue to monitor the levels of silt to ensure they are not in violation of any permits.

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