Protecting Biscayne’s Fisheries
Martin Arostegui, Miami, Florida
Martin, a NPCA Regional Council member, is a world-renowned angler and former doctor who emigrated from Cuba as a teenager. Having seen firsthand the decline of Biscayne’s fisheries over the years, he pivoted from educating others about the science of marine reserves to proudly advocating on the issue. He shares his expertise with passion and authenticity and eagerly volunteers to meet with decision-makers, attend public meetings, and give science-based presentations to angling and civic groups throughout South Florida.
Biscayne National Park is a national treasure and our country’s largest marine national park. Home to part of the third-largest barrier reef tract in the world, Biscayne protects some of the only living coral within the continental United States and is a haven for those seeking to snorkel, boat or dive in its serene waters.
However, the health of the park’s reefs and fisheries has declined dramatically in recent years. With South Florida’s expanding human population, pressure on fish populations has skyrocketed. The number of recreational fishing vessels in the area grew by more than 750% from 1964 to 2014. Advances in technology have also quadrupled the efficiency of recreational anglers. As a result, for every 20 fish caught in 1960, only one fish is caught today.
The message is clear: Biscayne’s iconic coral reefs and marine life are in critical condition, with some fish populations on the verge of collapse. NPCA has long been a proponent of proactive, sustainable management of this park’s marine wildlife and habitat. Whether supporting the National Park Service-proposed marine reserve (which would have prohibited fishing in just 6% of the park’s waters to help protect coral reefs and bring back more fish) or working to implement a science-based fishery management plan, NPCA remains dedicated to protecting and restoring Biscayne’s threatened fisheries and coral reefs.
In the summer of 2019, we again rallied our supporters around this critical issue, asking them to submit comments on the implementation of Biscayne’s Fishery Management Plan or to speak up at local meetings to ensure Biscayne remains a healthy and biodiverse marine park.