New Report: Florida's Coast in Crisis

People who care about the coast say our next governor needs to get serious about protecting the state’s natural resources. A new report by several leading environmental groups says Florida’s coastline and oceans are in trouble.

Among the problems are short-sighted coastal development, pollution, and a fragmented system of state and local protection agencies that don’t communicate with each other.

Gerald Karnas with the National Wildlife Federation says Florida’s $60 billion-a-year tourism and fishing industries depend on the state improving how it manages its most valuable assets.

Gerald Karnas said, "We are completely dependent upon the ocean and coastal environment for the economy, for our way of life, for our recreational opportunities."

A coalition of conservationists is calling on both of the leading candidates for governor to heed the report’s advice and get serious about caring for the state’s 14,000 miles of coastline.

David White of the Ocean Conservancy said, "The governor needs to be accountable for how these resources are managed. So far we have not done a very good job."

Dwindling fish stocks, red tide and beaches closed by pollution tend to support the claim. The environmental groups say the good news is both Charlie Crist and Jim Davis are green candidates, with good track records on environmental issues, so whoever voters choose, it’ll be a positive step.

But environmentalists say they also want to make sure whoever wins does more than just talk.

Democrat Jim Davis responded with a commitment to act on the coastal and ocean report’s suggestions and develop a comprehensive management plan.

Republican Charlie Crist’s camp pointed to his history of supporting environmental causes and promised to review the report in the coming weeks.