Gov. DeSantis touts $5M investment in artificial reefs, more than Joe Biden requested nationwide
Darren Soto is spearheading a bipartisan effort to protect American coral reefs.

He also promoted hunting and fishing efforts to reduce invasive pythons and lionfish.

The state of Florida will invest $5 million in artificial reefs to help support the ecosystem in Key West.

Gov. Ron DeSantis touted the ecological spending at a press conference in the Keys, noting the state has put more resources into coral reefs here than the federal government has nationwide.

“Since I became Governor, we’ve done $114 million for coral reef recovery and coastal protection efforts,” DeSantis said.

“You’ve never seen anything like that. And to put that in perspective: What we’ve done in the current year’s budget, what we did in the budget I signed last week that will take effect in July 1 of this year, our support for coral reefs through our own state budget exceeded the total investment requested by the (Joe) Biden administration for coral reef restoration across the entire United States.”

While Biden has called environmental policy a priority of his administration, many in the scientific community were alarmed that his latest budget request cuts spending for the Integrated Ocean Observing System from more than $42 million to about $10 million, according to CNN. That program is partially responsible for monitoring coral reefs.

Notably, the White House in December called on states to further invest in coral reefs as part of a National Climate Resilience Framework.

DeSantis suggested that Florida was prioritizing greater environmental needs than was the federal government.

“They spend billions of dollars to create, like, three charging stations, you know, for electric vehicles. I mean, it’s crazy,” DeSantis said. “So we’re actually doing things that impact the state of Florida.”

Rep. Jim Mooney, a Key West Republican, advocated for the reef spending in the budget and said the use of artificial reefs was critical at a time when natural coral faces ecological threats.

“Artificial reefs are necessary in today’s world,” Mooney said. “We can’t fix what’s already gone out there, but we can now enhance. And through support from the Governor’s Office, we’re going to make sure that we have an ecosystem that thrives, is good for Florida, is good for our tourism and good for our children and the future of Monroe County.”

DeSantis discussed efforts to improve Florida’s environment overall, including protecting elements enjoyed by Floridians and by tourists. He touted state facilitated hunting and fishing efforts for pythons and lionfish, the latter of which is underway right now.

Roger Young, Executive Director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said efforts like the lionfish hunts and reef restoration work in synergy to protect Florida’s natural environment.

“With the lionfish challenge that’s out there, and also with the coral reef restoration, there’s such important work that’s being done by our members, our staff members and our biologists at the Florida Research Institute, the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, along with others that are helping with that,” Young said.

He also discussed advocacy to allow more fishing of red snapper in Florida, which is regulated largely by states in the Gulf of Mexico but by the federal government on the Atlantic Coast. He said Florida has pushed for a longer fishing season while the federal government keeps a very short season, which last year ran just 48 hours.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • My Take

    June 19, 2024 at 2:01 pm

    Blah blah,, Florida does the most.

    Does any other state even have coral reefs, other than Hawaii, and are they endangered there?

    And news a year or so ago was about how much money, time, and effort is being put into REMOVING older artificial reefs that failed..

    A bit more scientific research might be in order before more near-shore dumping.

    Lastly, it is oceanic (climatic) warming that is highly involved in coral-reef decline, not that DeScamus wants to approach that.
    (Nitrogen pollution too. He might think about that one.)

  • Emily Hazel

    June 19, 2024 at 2:22 pm

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  • Michael K

    June 19, 2024 at 3:22 pm

    How does the $10 million in Biden’s proposed budget amount to less than the $5 million in Ron’s budget? Ron is simply doing what Biden requested: asking coastal states to step up.

    Curious if Ron is bragging about being the first governor in Florida history to eliminate all arts funding in the state? (Biden has increased arts funding in his proposed budget).

    And by the way, three charging stations do not cost billions of dollars. Ron is simply making stuff up. Again.

    • Jojo

      June 20, 2024 at 7:51 am

      And as a radio host said recently, it’s much harder to push back on the constant barrage of falsehoods than to just lie outright

  • no junk reefs

    June 20, 2024 at 7:27 am

    So are we supposed to be happy that pollution and climate change has essentially killed our natural coral reefs and that we are spending millions of tax dollars to put a bunch of junk in the ocean to lure tourists down to the Keys? Give me a break. Rona is hardly an environmental champion, quite the contrary. Recently he complained about spending over $50 at a McDonald’s drive through to feed the family. He just doesn’t act real, he is a farce. He brags about striking the concept of “climate change” from Florida laws as if that will help solve the problem. After this year’s hurricanes make landfall in Florida, his presidential ambitions will be toast.

  • Jojo

    June 20, 2024 at 7:44 am

    Is the governor so deluded that he thinks this bandaid is going to make people forget we’re not supposed to say climate change in this state?

Comments are closed.


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