Posted by: reefrescue | November 6, 2009

World famous Breakers Reef thrown under the bus

Unable to deny the existence of the largest stand of staghorn coral in Palm Beach County, Palm Beach’s coral reef consultant recommends protection for the Bath & Tennis Reef, but not much else.

Town of Palm Beach splitting hairs over coral protection

In a report dated November 3, 2009, Coastal Eco-Group Inc. (CEG), recommended the Town of Palm Beach allow critical habitat protection designation for the Bath & Tennis Reef staghorn coral, discovered by Reef Rescue volunteer divers. But, CEG proposes the northern boundary for staghorn coral habitat protection be established south of the Breakers Hotel eliminating the north end of Breakers Reef, Turtle Mound, Double Ledges and all reefs to the north from the protection zone. Some of the best diving spots in Palm Beach County and reefs that contain the features essential for the survival of the ESA listed staghorn coral would go unprotected.

The NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has designated staghorn and elkhorn coral critical habitat boundaries along the east coast of Florida from 6 to 90 feet deep. CEG argues the rules for the Town of Palm Beach should be different and recommends no shallow habitat protection in waters less than 45 feet deep. This effectively eliminates habitat protection for all of Breakers Shallow Reef, where mooring buoys were recently installed by Palm Beach County to help protect the reef from anchor damage. 

The report also uses the increasingly tiresome argument that since no staghorn coral has been documented north of the Bath & Tennis reef, no staghorn habitat protection is warranted for the reefs to the north. This is the same logic employed by the town’s former consultants who argued none of Palm Beach County should be designated as critical habitat because the only staghorn sightings were reported by recreational divers. It’s the old, if you don’t look for it, you can’t find it ruse. 

To view the entire CEG report click here

TAKE ACTION: Send an email to the Town of Palm Beach and ask them to stop the hair splitting and withdraw their objection to ESA listed coral habitat protection click here.

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Responses

  1. Cut to the chase,
    When we survey these locations during the 2010 Florida Reef Project with Reef Rescue and the PBCRRT utilizing Reef Check methodologies and including several respected scientists to acknowledge that this Endangered Species (Staghorn) exists in these locations it will become very clear that critical habitat must be designated.

    “No shallow habitat protection in waters less than 45 feet deep.”
    Motive: An allowance for pollution, period.
    This is unexceptable.

  2. […] Background info from Palm Beach County Reef Rescue Blog Imperiled coral enjoys renaissance – but Palm Beach, activists spar over protections A little threespot damselfish defending his territory – YouTube video See Sept. 26, 2009 Palm Beach staghorn video The threespot damselfish – a link to more information on the Beautiful Oceans website […]


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