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United Arab Emirates awards grants for Keys reef restoration

By AP | May 21, 2021

KEY LARGO, Fla. (AP) — Two Florida Keys-based coral restoration organizations have been awarded shares of a United Arab Emirates grant.

Coral Restoration Foundation is to get more than $1.9 million for work at Carysfort Reef off North Key Largo, and Reef Renewal USA is to receive more than $176,000 for coral enhancement at Sombrero Reef off Marathon, the United Way announced Thursday. Both sectors are in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

The funding is part of a $10 million allocation that the UAE committed to help Florida following Hurricane Irma in 2017, United Way of the Florida Keys President Leah Stockton said.

In February 2020, United Way announced a $3.5 million gift from UAE funds for reef restoration and education projects.

The funding, awarded through a competitive grant process, is an investment in restoration work focusing on two of the seven reefs identified through the sanctuary’s Mission: Iconic Reefs program. The program was announced in 2019 with hopes of raising $100 million for reef restoration.

Both organizations are required to secure a one-to-one match of the awarded funds, resulting in about $4.2 million for restoration efforts.

Stockton said the balance of the $3.5 million UAE contribution is to be allocated to marine science educational projects in the Keys.

Last month, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, in partnership with Mote Marine Laboratory and Coral Restoration Foundation, received a $5 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to restore Eastern Dry Rocks off Key West.