DeSantis says Florida makes preservation of coral reefs a top priority

(The Center Square) — Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday in the Florida Keys that the has made conservation efforts a top priority and will continue to do so through continued appropriations for coral reef restoration.

“We have done, since I’ve been governor, historic investments and conservation efforts in making sure that Florida’s waterways are clean and making sure that we’re restoring the Everglades so water flows to Florida Bay like God intended,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis said that an important focus of the is coral reefs and supporting the restoration and protection of reefs. He added that no other administration in the history of the state of Florida has done more.

“This is something that we’ve put a lot of emphasis on, so in March, I did $9.5 million through our coral reef restoration and recovery initiative to support academic and private partnerships that will help safeguard Florida’s coral reefs,” DeSantis said.

In 2023, approximately $57 million was invested in coral reef restoration and coastal protection. DeSantis noted that this year’s budget has allocated the same amount, bringing the total to $114 million since 2019.

“To put that in perspective, what we’ve done in the current year’s budget, what we did in the budget that I signed last week that will take effect July 1…exceeded the total investment requested by the Biden administration for coral reef restoration across the entire United States,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis noted the importance of coral reefs to the ecosystem and that they also protect the coastline during hurricanes and other major storms.

“Today, we are adding from the budget that I signed, we’ll be able to distribute an additional $5 million dedicated to artificial reefs,” DeSantis said. “This is all in an effort to support the establishment of a new framework for installing, overseeing, and preserving artificial reef habitats in the Florida Keys.”

DeSantis said they are adding additional money to accelerate projects throughout the Sunshine State, some of which were not meant to break ground until at least 2030.

“These are really significant investments, we’re using taxpayer dollars prudently, but these are by far the most substantial investments that we’ve ever done,” DeSantis said. “However, even though we’re doing that…the budget that I signed last week still actually spends less than our current year budget.”

DeSantis also announced that the recreational spiny lobster mini-season will be on July 24-25, with an additional day, July 14, reserved exclusively for Florida residents.

The regular commercial and recreational lobster season will begin on Aug. 6 and end on March 31.