Press Release Feb 19, 2020

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Weak Plan Will Not Protect Biscayne National Park

We urge NPS officials in South Florida to adopt stronger protections than FWC’s and call on Governor Ron DeSantis and fellow elected leaders in Florida to stand up for South Florida’s world-renowned fish, reefs and waters.

MIAMI, FL – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Board of Commissioners today voted to adopt final rules for implementing Biscayne National Park’s Fishery Management Plan.

Decades of overfishing have devastated Biscayne National Park’s coral reefs, severely depleting vital reef fish species.

The FMP, which was developed jointly by the FWC and the National Park Service (NPS), is supposed to set regulations that will increase the size and abundance of coral reef fish in Biscayne National Park. Unfortunately, the weak plan put forward by the FWC does not include establishing no-fishing marine reserve areas.

A scientific study conducted by NPCA and Dr. Jerald Ault, Chair of the Department of Marine Ecosystems and Society at the University of Miami, found that without these crucial reserve areas, the plan will not achieve sustainability for Biscayne National Park fish.

Statement of Melissa Abdo, Sun Coast Regional Director for the National Parks Conservation Association:

“Today, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) chose to ignore science and failed to protect Biscayne National Park, our nation’s largest marine national park and a staple of South Florida’s economy, environment and way-of-life. The FWC’s decision not to establish small no-fishing marine reserve areas in Biscayne means that overfishing will continue to devastate vulnerable marine wildlife and the imperiled coral reef ecosystem.

“We want Floridians and all visitors to Biscayne National Park to enjoy fishing the park’s waters and experiencing the park’s coral reefs and marine wildlife for generations to come. However, without establishing science-based reserves in the park to sustain these resources, that vision of the future will not be possible.

“The FWC plan ignores tried-and-true methods for creating no-fishing marine reserves that have helped protect and restore coral reefs in South Florida, including reefs in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Dry Tortugas National Park.

“The National Park Service has a responsibility to protect the unique resources at Biscayne National Park and should not rubber stamp this weak plan. We urge NPS officials in South Florida to adopt stronger protections than FWC’s and call on Governor Ron DeSantis and fellow elected leaders in Florida to stand up for South Florida’s world-renowned fish, reefs and waters.”

About National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.4 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.