NPCA submitted the following position to the Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee ahead of a markup on June 29, 2016.
NPCA urges members of the committee to oppose S. 3099 – Access for Sportfishing Act of 2016.
Few places in the country are designated as National Parks – Biscayne is one of them because it protects an exemplary natural wonder. This bill could allow damage to the fragile coral reef ecosystem for which Biscayne National Park was created to protect. It would prevent the National Park Service (NPS) from upholding their duty, as written in the 1916 Organic Act, to conserve park resources and leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations. Further, this bill would prohibit the NPS from upholding the enabling legislation of Biscayne National Park (BNP) which allows for regulating fishing in the interest of sound conservation. The bill seeks to prevent the implementation of a marine reserve that would protect Biscayne’s fragile coral reef resources, which is in direct conflict with the NPS ‘Preservation First’ mandate.
The bill would block desperately needed marine conservation measures in Biscayne National Park that were developed after more than 15 years of scientific study, public input, and coordination with the State of Florida. Studies by park scientists, fisheries experts and leading university researchers found that a marine reserve could help address the severe decline in the health of the park’s coral reef ecosystem. NPS received over 43,000 pieces of correspondence related to the planning process, nearly 90% of the comments were in support of protecting the coral reef.
Finally, this bill has not proceeded through regular order – it did not receive a hearing and is being pushed to a vote without input from valued stakeholders.
See NPCA’s analysis of the bill language for more details on our position.
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Climate and Conservation Program Manager.