Save the Oculina Coral Reef! This unique coral ecosystem is found nowhere else on earth!

Save the Oculina Coral Reef! This unique coral ecosystem is found nowhere else on earth!

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The Board of - Conservation Alliance of St. Lucie County started this petition to Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Department of Commerce Janet Coit and

In 1984 the Oculina Coral Reef Habitat, off of Florida’s Atlantic coast, was placed in protected status by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC).  This was done to stop destructive rock shrimp fishing from decimating the coral reef habitat.  Known as the Oculina Coral Habitat Area of Particular Concern (HAPC) this ecosystem became the first Marine Protected Area in the world to protect a deep-water coral reef.  
 
This unique deep-water coral ecosystem is found nowhere else on earth.  The Oculina ecosystem is important habitat for a variety of fish species (70 species) including scamp grouper, gag grouper, snowy grouper, speckled hind, and red snapper.  This habitat provides spawning and nursery services for young fish, including commercially important grouper and snapper.  Groupers support one of our most valuable fisheries in the State of Florida and in the Southeastern United States. 
 
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) recently voted to open a portion of marine protected areas to commercial rock shrimp fishing.  This was made possible by Trump Presidential Executive Order (EO) 13921 on Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth, which promotes consideration of opening protected waters to commercial fishermen.
 
The SAFMC and rock shrimp fishers are now using this Trump executive order to justify cutting into the protected Oculina Coral HAPC. 
 
Ironically, opening this habitat area to Rock Shrimp Fishing, risks further damage to a “fish-nursery” rather than allowing it to fully heal.  Habitats that provide “fish-nursey” services are critical to ensuring healthy commercial fish populations.  Opening the boundaries of a protected area represents a giant step backwards in stewardship of our natural resources and sets a dangerous precedent for encroachment into other protected areas
 
We still have a chance to save it!  
NOAA Fisheries can deny this opening before Amendment 10 to the Fisheries Plan is approved by the Secretary of Commerce!  Sign our petition asking that NOAA deny opening the “Oculina Coral Reef Habitat of Particular Concern” to Rock Shrimp Fishers.  
Sign on to ask them to keep the protected area intact!

0 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!
At 5,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!