|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||November 15, 2013|
|Contact:||Alison Zemanski Heis, Media Relations Manager, National Parks Conservation Association, P: 202.454.3332 or C: 202.384.8762|
National Parks Group Disappointed by Lack of Protection for Reefs at Biscayne National Park
Marine reserve at Biscayne is needed and vital to improve coral reef habitat, fishing, diving, and visitor experience
Statement By: Caroline McLaughlin, Biscayne Program Analyst
“Biscayne National Park is a national treasure and home to one of the largest barrier reefs in the world. The proposed revisions today, to Biscayne National Park’s Supplemental Draft General Management Plan (GMP) by the National Park Service fail to protect Biscayne’s coral reef ecosystem, the diverse creatures that inhabit it, and the millions of visitors that come to explore the park’s invaluable resources. The supplemental draft GMP no longer recommends creating a marine reserve, which we believe is the best science-based solution for the future health and sustainability of the coral reef ecosystem at the park. By establishing a marine reserve, Biscayne National Park will uphold the Park Service’s mandate requiring the protection of park resources and will enhance the visitor experience for all Americans.
“Unfortunately, Biscayne National Park has been overfished and over-stressed for several decades. Scientific research shows that marine reserves are one of the quickest and most effective methods for conserving and sustaining coral reef ecosystems. For example, studies have shown significant increases in the size and abundance of once overfished species after just five years of research at the marine reserve in Dry Tortugas National Park, approximately 70 miles west of Key West. Without a marine reserve at Biscayne, the coral reefs will continue to deteriorate and the park will fail to achieve its management objectives, jeopardizing park resources and the visitor experience.
“We urge the National Park Service to adopt a marine reserve for the protection of the unique marine resources at Biscayne. Strong ecosystem protection is critical to the health and survival of park’s natural wonders, the local economy that depends on the park’s visitation and tourism, and for future generations to experience and enjoy. The National Park Service must listen to the voices of thousands of marine reserve supporters that have submitted comments and to those expected to advocate for resource protection and restoration at upcoming public meetings in December.”