Caroline McLaughlin, Biscayne Program Analyst with the National Parks Conservation Association talks with Rob about establishing a no-fishing marine reserve within Biscayne National Park . The Park manages a portion of the only living reef in the continental US and the third largest barrier reef tract in the world. The Park protects the longest stretch of mangrove on Florida’s east coast along with seagrass beds, coral reefs, and numerous keys or islands. Add to those habitats, straddling both temperate and tropical climates, this National Park is home to a high level of biodiversity and unique habitats.
Smalltooth sawfish, American crocodile, elkhorn coral are some of the many threatened and endangered species protected by the park. Threats to the park’s incredible coral reef ecosystem include coral bleaching, boat strikes, anchoring, water pollution, warming waters and overfishing. Caroline discusses the 15 year process of developing a new plan for the park that will guide future management decisions and protect the park’s reefs. The process included intensive scientific analysis and public engagement and outreach. Finally a plan has been approved that sets aside 6% of the park as a marine reserve, protecting 30 % of the park’s reefs.
In 2012, members of Congress raised concerns about the plan, challenging the implementation of strong management actions needed to protect Biscayne’s severely threatened coral reef. With only weeks remaining before the decision is finalized, please join with the Ocean River Institute in calling on Congress for marine protected area in a small portion of Biscayne National Park.
Caroline McLaughlin works for the National Parks Conservation Association as the Sun Coast region’s Biscayne Program Analyst. Originally from New Jersey, Caroline received her B.A. from the University of Miami in Ecosystem Science and Policy and Geography. While in Florida, she worked with the National Park Service’s South Florida and Caribbean Exotic Plant Management Team and volunteered on shark research trips in Florida and Biscayne Bays. She then earned a dual M.A. in Natural Resources, Sustainable Development, and International Affairs from American University and the United Nations’ University for Peace in Costa Rica.
Prior to joining NPCA, Caroline worked with the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium to promote the sustainable use of coastal resources among the state’s coastal communities. She also helped implement environmental programs along Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast and most recently worked with the Government of Ecuador’s Yasuní-ITT Initiative to promote Amazon conservation and climate change mitigation policy. An avid scuba diver, Caroline has a passion for coral reefs and marine life. She is thrilled to be working to protect the Sun Coast region’s stunning biodiversity and America’s national parks.