More is needed including creation of marine reserve to protect the park's vital coral reef habitat
Statement by Caroline McLaughlin, Biscayne restoration program analyst for the National Parks Conservation Association:
“After a decade of planning, we are pleased that the National Park Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have reached an agreement regarding a Fisheries Management Plan for Biscayne National Park. We are hopeful that the final plan will begin to address the severe impacts that over-fishing has on park resources. The plan provides a framework for fisheries management decisions for the next 5-10 years; however, more is needed. The Fisheries Management Plan must be accompanied by the creation of a marine reserve or “no-take” zone that would protect the park’s invaluable coral reef habitat, create better fishing opportunities with increase fish size, populations, and better species diversity, and promote diving, snorkeling, swimming, and boating activities in the park.
“Biscayne National Park is America’s largest marine national park, with more than 95 percent of the park comprised of water. A major goal of the Fisheries Management Plan is to increase the abundance and average size of targeted fish in the national park by at least 20 percent through the use of a variety of fisheries management tools. However, the plan only targets one specific resource within the park. The Biscayne National Park General Management Plan is a broader plan that will govern the management of all resources within the national park for the next 20-25 years. The plan, which is currently under development and expected to be finalized by 2015, must include a marine reserve to address dwindling fish populations and degraded coral reef habitat.
“Scientific research shows that marine reserves are one of the quickest and most effective ways to conserve and sustain coral reefs. Strong ecosystem protection is critical to the health and survival of park’s resources, the local economy that depends on the park’s visitation and tourism, and the visitor experiences of future generations. Today’s Fisheries Management Plan is an important step for protecting one of Biscayne’s resources however, the National Park Service must couple fisheries management tools with a marine reserve in their General Management Plan in order to fully protect all of the spectacular underwater resources that Biscayne National Park has to offer.”
About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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