Healthy coastal environments are the foundation for the quality of life and economy of Florida’s coastal communities. The sustainability and health of habitats and good water quality in the coastal zone will determine the future of the state’s recreational and commercial fisheries and aquatic products industries, recreational boating and diving, beach-related recreation, tourism, nature observation and a myriad of other natural and societal values that support a thriving economy.
However, increasingly rapid coastal development, and other human activities and behaviors have led to congestion, water quality degradation, shoreline erosion and loss of critical habitat. Major issues affecting coastal ecosystems at this time include unnatural low and high flows of fresh water into estuaries, pollution of coastal waters with nutrients, and loss, fragmentation or degradation of the coastal habitats mentioned above.
The human impacts threaten not only the ecosystems, their biodiversity and their functions, but also many human uses including fishing, boating, tourism and aquatic products including clams, oysters and sponges. In addition to existing threats, climate change poses further and less-understood challenges for coastal habitats, water quality and coastal economies. During the next four years Florida Sea Grant will provide the targeted science, outreach and education that is required to address existing and emerging issues affecting our natural coastal zone and we will work with partners to identify solutions or adaptation options.