Florida cannot take its connection to the ocean for granted. More than just lovely beaches and blue water, our oceans provide half the oxygen we breathe, medicines to treat disease, plus food, recreation and livelihoods for millions of people here and around the globe. At the same time, our oceans pose serious risks to our state. We must work to reduce the effects of coastal storms, erosion and flooding, a constant threat for seaside cities and towns. The complexity of our vulnerability to and reliance on the ocean makes it one of The Nature Conservancy’s greatest challenges.
In Florida, we focus on collaborating with communities and legislators to support and secure funding for critical ocean conservation issues. We work along our coasts to protect reefs, mangroves and salt marshes—our natural infrastructure—now threatened by climate change. We’re using science and technology to meet the challenge of ocean conservation with three innovative projects:
- Coastal Resilience program: With our partners, we’ve developed an online mapping tool that allows us to apply spatial planning to coastal hazard risk, resilience and adaptation issues.
- FishFace is an automated new digital recognition technology that could be used on fishing boats for more accurate sorting and identification of species.
- Mapping Ocean Wealth is a tool to enable visualization of benefits provided by coastal systems. It is designed for use in natural resource planning and policy decisions. The Conservancy was honored with the Tourism for Tomorrow Innovation Award for the project, presented by the World Travel and Tourism Council.
We’re also hard at work using nature-based solutions for ocean conservation. We’re restoring coral in Florida, the only coral reef system in the continental United States. Using pioneering methods, we’re restoring productive oyster habitats in estuaries where 85–100 percent of the oyster population had been lost. Next will be a 6.5-mile oyster habitat restoration project in Pensacola. After initial efforts proved highly effective, we’re supporting large-scale sponge restoration in Florida Bay and the Keys.
Through nature-based solutions and technology, we’re working to reduce overfishing, pollution, erosion and rising, warmer sea levels. For every marine and shoreline project in the state, our goal is to benefit both the wildlife and the people of Florida.
Help us continue our conservation work in Florida.