Press Release Jul 18, 2019

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Park Service Must Take Bold Action to Protect Biscayne National Park Marine Wildlife

Decades of overfishing have severely depleted Biscayne’s reef fish, and it’s time for Florida and the Park Service to take action to protect them.

MIAMI, FL – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Board of Commissioners will meet today to review and discuss the Biscayne National Park Fishery Management Plan and hear a presentation from FWC staff regarding proposed regulatory actions on fisheries. The meeting is open to the public at Marriott Resort Hutchinson Island (555 NE Ocean Blvd, Stuart, FL 34996) at 8:30am.

Biscayne National Park is a national treasure and an integral part of the third largest barrier reef ecosystem in the world. In the interest of protecting one of America’s most treasured and readily accessible marine national parks, and the health and sustainability of the broader marine ecosystem, the National Parks Conservation Association strongly supports the implementation of science-based regulations aimed at achieving sustainable fish populations in Biscayne National Park.

Following the meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission will host a series of public workshops to gather feedback from the public on fisheries regulations on August 6-8.

August 6: Newman Alumni Center, University of Miami, 6-9pm, 6200 San Amaro Drive, Coral Gables, FL 33146

August 7: Florida City City Hall, 6-9pm, 404 W Palm Drive, Florida City, FL 33034

August 8: Murray Nelson Government Center, 6-9pm, 102050 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL 33037

Statement of Caroline McLaughlin, Associate Director of the Sun Coast Region for National Parks Conservation Association:

“Decades of overfishing have severely depleted Biscayne’s reef fish, and it’s time for Florida and the Park Service to take action to protect them. While we welcome the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s initial proposal to increase the minimum size limits for some reef fish species in Biscayne, that alone won’t solve the problem and sustain reef fish populations for the foreseeable future. We strongly urge the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to keep all management options on the table, including the creation of no-take marine reserves. We need to see a science-based plan that allows for the recovery of economically and ecologically important reef fish populations for current and future generations.”

Statement of Jerald Ault, Ph.D, Professor and Chair of the Department of Marine Ecosystems and Society at the University of Miami:

“There is no doubt that the entire Florida Reef Tract, including Biscayne National Park and the Florida Keys, is losing fish at a rapid, unsustainable rate, and that serial overfishing is the culprit. Our research shows that the majority of reef fish populations are overfished and severely depleted, some literally on the verge of collapse.

"It is clear the management efforts to sustain reef fish populations over the past 25 years have failed to address the pervasive problem of increased fishing effort and overfishing in Biscayne National Park. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Park Service must take bolder action to prevent collapses in vital reef fish populations. We need bigger fish in Florida, more of them, and fast. All reasonable options, including marine reserves, must be considered.”

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About National Parks Conservation Association: For 100 years, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org/100.