Florida reefs North of the Boynton Beach Inlet are denied as critical habitat, and the protection that comes with the designation.
Elkhorn Coral in PR
While I have never seen a Staghorn or Elkhorn coral on North Palm ot Martin County reefs, that does not mean that they do not exist. And to make a claim that Coral Cove Park is not Critical Habitat for Endangered and Threatened Species is absolutely not true.
I can list over 20 species that utilize North Palm Beach and Martin Counties patch reefs as refuge, habitat, rehabilitation, cleaning station, and spawning grounds
To say that I am disappointed is an understatement; my worst-case scenario has played out. North Palm Beach County reefs will go unprotected for 2009
Thanks go to NOAA and Reef Rescue for all of their hard work and efforts.
2 emails written to me:
First from DEP/NOAA/SEFCRI
Don’t know if you caught this in the Herald on Monday. The title was different in the print version, but the story is the same.
Miami Herald story
Second from Ed Tichenor Reef Rescue
Federal Agency Cuts Coral Protection Area
Critical Habitat for Palm Beach County Cut in Half
As required by the Endangered Species Act, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service has finalized the critical habitat designations for Elkhorn and Staghorn (Acropora) corals effective December 26, 2008. All of Palm Beach County was originally proposed to be included in the designated area. But when the final rule was published half of the county was eliminated. NOAA claims, in comments published in the Federal Register, they have no knowledge of either species of Acroporahistorically or presently occurring north of the Boynton Beach Inlet.
This is simply not true. Reef Rescue and FDEP biologists have supplied data documenting historical and living Staghorn colonies in the area NOAA now claims they have no knowledge of Acropora occurring.
The decision to eliminate half of the county is not based on science but rather appears NOAA caved to the political influence of wealthy oceanfront towns whose beach renourishment projects might be jeopardized by the critical habitat designation.
Read the Palm Beach Post