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Oceans Environmental Protection Agency Region 2: Oceans

EPA Region 2 Coral Reef Protection Plan Fiscal Year 2014

EPA Region 2 developed a plan [PDF 254KB, 10 pp] to increase coral reef protection in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The plan provides a regional strategy for communications with local and federal organizations involved with coral protection, and a series of “direct” actions that EPA Region 2 will employ to address threats to coral reef ecosystems. It also includes activities and programs that we will target for future implementation. The region will review and revise this plan annually.

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EPA divers, Jed Campbell and Dan Cooke, collecting sea grass samples for an ocean survey off the coast of St. Croix.We take great pride in protecting our region's oceans, harbors, estuaries and other water bodies. Region 2 handles various ocean issues for the Atlantic waters off New York and New Jersey and for the Caribbean Sea surrounding Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.  These complex and biologically diverse ecosystems are challenged with special environmental and social needs, from coral reef concerns in the Caribbean to the management of material dredged from  our major urban ports.

The ocean is under constant pressure from our ever-growing population's desire to live and recreate near the coast.   Today, 70% of us live within an hour's drive of the coastline.  Despite recent improvements in environmental conditions in our waters, significant problems remain.   These problems include: habitat loss and degradation, toxics, pathogens, floating trash, and nutrient and organic enrichment.   The impacts of these problems range from the decline in fish and shellfish populations to fish consumption advisories and the intermittent closure of bathing beaches. 

Our society has long believed that water pollution is caused by industrial and sewage treatment plant discharges, otherwise known as Point Source Pollution.   In fact, the everyday activities of each one of us has an enormous collective impact on water quality.  Some examples of Non-Point Source Pollution includes fertilizer and pesticide runoff from lawns and farms, silt carried off construction sites and the street-litter that ends up in our stormwater drains.  These pollutants find their way into the nearest body of water and may eventually reach the ocean, degrading our water quality all along the way.

This creates a sensitive, dynamic balance between ocean and man; the desire to keep up with our increasing growth and development as a society while protecting the ocean that sustains life as we know it.  EPA believes our responsibilities in protecting the ocean and sealife are crucial, not only for the safety of all those dependent on the vitality of the ocean but also that we might preserve, for the future, all that we treasure within it.

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