Southeast and Caribbean Region Ecosystem-Based Management Activities

The Southeast and Caribbean region is composed of the land areas of North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the marine environment adjacent these lands. Topography ranges from mountains to coastal plains to expansive or abrupt continental/island shelves and intervening ocean basins. The region contains extensive riverine, estuarine, marsh, barrier island, forest, mangrove, and coral reef systems.  Three large marine ecosystems support a diverse assemblage of marine life, with 18 protected marine species, over 600 marine managed areas, and one of the world’s largest shallow water coral reefs. The Gulf Stream is an important influence on biological, chemical, and physical characteristics. Coastal recreation and tourism, transportation, and shipping are major contributors to the regional economy, especially in the Caribbean.  The region has over 35 ports and terminals that service cargo and passenger ships including some of the country’s largest and fastest growing container ports. The region also hosts the largest U.S. recreational fishery, plus major commercial, multi-species fisheries.


Marine and Estuarine Goal Setting Project For South Florida

The goal of the Marine and Estuarine Goal Setting for South Florida (MARES) Project is to  reach a science-based consensus about the defining characteristics and fundamental regulating processes of a South Florida coastal marine ecosystem that is both sustainable and capable of providing the diverse ecological services upon which our society depends. MARES represents a collaboration between academic scientists, federal and state agencies experts and non-governmental environmental organizations working in close conjunction with agency managers, private industry stakeholders and interested members of the public.

MARES Website

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 2,900 square nautical miles of waters surrounding the Florida Keys, from south of Miami westward to encompass the Dry Tortugas, excluding Dry Tortugas National Park. The shoreward boundary of the sanctuary is the mean high-water mark, essentially meaning that once you set foot in Keys waters, you have entered the sanctuary. Within the boundaries of the sanctuary lie spectacular, unique, and nationally significant marine resources, from the world’s third largest barrier reef, extensive seagrass beds, mangrove-fringed islands, and more than 6,000 species of marine life.

Florida Keys Sanctuary Website

Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary

Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Georgia is one of the largest near-shore "live-bottom" reefs of the southeastern United States. Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary is currently the only protected natural reef area on the continental shelf off the Georgia coast and one of only a few natural marine protected areas in the ocean between Cape Hatteras, NC and Cape Canaveral, FL. The approximately 22 square mile sanctuary of Gray's Reef is recognized nationally and internationally as an important  natural marine habitat.

Gray's Reef Sanctuary Website

Puerto Rico’s Northeast Reserves and Culebra Island Habitat Focus Area

The Northeast Reserves and Culebra habitats are home to coastal forests, wetlands, a bioluminescent lagoon, seagrass beds, shallow and deep coral reefs, and miles ofpristine beaches. Leatherback sea turtles nest on the beaches, while manatees, green and hawksbill turtles, and bottlenose dolphins are frequently sighted. A variety of coral species—including those protected under the Endangered Species Act—can be found along with diverse fish species that depend on these valuable habitats. This area is also of great economic value, thanks to thriving tourism, seven marinas, and recreational and commercial fisheries.

Southeast and Caribbean Habitat Focus Areas Website

This represents a sample of the NOAA programs employing EBM in the Southeast Region, it is not comprehensive. If there are programs you feel should be included please contact us.