Last year, the National Park Service announced that its preferred alternative for managing Florida’s Biscayne National Park includes closing up to 20 percent of the park’s waters to fishing.
But now a coalition of national boating and fishing organizations is optimistic that a less restrictive outcome is possible, based on recent and ongoing discussions between the National Park Service (NPS) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
“As representatives of America’s leading recreational fishing and boating organizations, we are highly interested in the management of Biscayne National Park, one of the country's largest urban recreational fishing and boating areas. Biscayne National Park is a jewel in the national park system and helps support Florida’s $19 billion recreational fishing and boating economy and the associated 250,000 jobs,” the coalition said in a recent letter to NPS and FWC.
And it added this:
“We remind you that the marine reserve zones proposed in the draft GMP are inherently fisheries management tools, and should only be considered as a last resort and only after other, less restrictive options have failed.
“Other management options, such as more restrictive fishing regulations for certain species, species-specific spawning closures and a mechanism to pay for improved enforcement and education of park regulations could be equally or more effective than a marine reserve in rebuilding the park’s fisheries resources.
“We understand the desire of park managers to provide a different user experience for other activities, but we believe this can be accomplished without closing large areas of the park to fishing and boating.”
Here’s a September statement from the NPS and FWC about their discussions.
Coalition members include the American Sportfishing Association, Center for Coastal Conservation, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, and National Marine Manufacturers Association.