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Mini-312 Seagrass Restoration Program

Purpose: To prepare rapid, cost-effective, litigation-quality claims for vessel groundings and to implement restoration of seagrass injuries.

Location: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS).


Overview: The seagrass beds of the Florida Keys are important feeding and nursery grounds for hundreds of marine species, host thousands of recreational and commercial fishermen annually, and provide protection for the Keys during storms. Unfortunately, the seagrass communities have been severely degraded over the past few decades. Recreational and commercial vessels are significant contributors to this decline. When a vessel runs aground, the resulting injury often destroys the impacted habitat, causing long-term harm to the environment. With more than 600 vessel groundings reported each year in FKNMS, the impact on seagrass can be extensive.

NOAA and the state of Florida have teamed up to tackle this problem. They created the Mini-312 Program to address the injuries to seagrass habitats caused by smaller vessel groundings in FKNMS. The goal of the Mini-312 Program is to reverse the decline in seagrass community health by restoring injured resources and educating boat owners about the negative consequences of vessel groundings. The program uses an interdisciplinary team of biologists, economists, lawyers, and resource managers to assess and recover natural resource damages from boat operators who cause these injuries. The funds collected are then used to restore the seagrass communities at the impact sites.

The Mini-312 Program gets its name from section 312 of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act Linking to a non-federal government web site.This link does not imply endorsement.. Section 312 authorizes trustees to seek damages from those responsible for injuring sanctuary natural resources. In addition, section 307 authorizes trustees to assess civil penalties for violations of sanctuary regulations. Some natural resource injuries are pursued under section 307.


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Revised: Tuesday, 29-Jan-2013
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