Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Marine Affairs and Policy (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Maria Estevanez

Second Committee Member

Liana Talaue-McManus

Third Committee Member

Lisa Krimsky


The Florida Keys Reef Tract (FKRT) is a system of benthic habitats from Key Biscayne to the Dry Tortugas. In 2002, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s diver-based Reef Visual Census (RVC) program began collecting information about submerged marine debris along the FKRT. The RVC database identified 1,028 points of marine debris through 2010. Sixty-four percent was classified as “Trap”, 20% was identified as “Fishing”, and the remaining 16% of debris was identified as “Other”. Mapping of the database with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) determined locations of high marine debris observation density in the Upper Keys and Biscayne National Park. Perceptions regarding marine debris, existing regulations and agency involvement of the commercial fishing industry in Southeast Florida were assessed through personal interviews. Results indicate outreach and education efforts should be aimed at recreational fishermen and Miami-Dade commercial fishermen, with targeted removal events in Miami-Dade County incorporating commercial fishermen. These efforts are recommended to minimize derelict fishing gear accumulation and promote monitoring and removal from within the industry. These suggestions aim to build relationships between local agencies and commercial fishing communities to develop more effective marine debris management strategies.


Marine debris; Florida Keys Reef Tract; Derelict fishing gear; Outreach and education