New Marine Reserve at Biscayne National Park Threatened

Elkhorn Reef, Biscayne National Park NPS Photo by John Brooks
Elkhorn Reef, Biscayne National Park
NPS Photo by John Brooks

Following 15 years of scientific research and overwhelming public support 6% of Biscayne National Park was set aside in June to create a Marine Reserve to protect the park’s ailing coral reefs and help restore fish populations.

Biscayne Bay once flourished with native species such as gray snapper and black grouper. Now, these species are rarely seen and typically undersized when spotted. Marine reserves create better fishing opportunities when increased numbers of fish in the reserve “spill over into areas outside the reserve and will allow for protection of the coral reef ecosystems .

It’s worked before. An example of a successful  marine reserve in South Florida is Dry Tortugas National Park,  supported by the state of Florida and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Only 5 years after its inception, the National Park has seen significant increases in the size and population of once overfished fish specie.

The sliver of Biscayne National Park set-aside for a Reserve was created in part, due to 90% positive public comments, still allows  visitors to enjoy the Park —  dive, snorkel, swim and boat — as you always have in our country’s largest Marine National Park.marine_reserve

Members of Congress want to scuttle the Marine Reserve merely 2 months after it was created. Their logic; is that the Marine Reserve curtails public access to all of Biscayne National Park and causes strain to Businesses, which is untrue- Fishing, bait & tackle and other businesses can still thrive on the 94% of the park open to fishing.

What You Can Do:

  1. Address comments in support of the Marine Reserve to: The House Committee on Natural  Resources and The House Committee on Small Business joint Oversight Committee.a) Email Title: “Restricted Access at  Biscayne National Park and Implications for Fishermen, Small Businesses, the local Economy and Environment”.
    b) Email comments to Caroline Mclaughlin @ cmlaughlin@npca.org & cc Michelle Metcalf @ biscayne@tropicalaudubon.org
    c) Deadline: August 14, 2015 at 5pm
  2. Contact Your Representatives:(these are the elected officials calling the Reserve into question)
    Ros-Lehtinen: joshua.salpeter@mail.house.gov, adam.wolf@mail.house.gov, 202-225-3931
    Curbelo: adam.wolf@mail.house.gov, hector.arguello@mail.house.gov, 202-225-2778
    Diaz-Balart: chris.sweet@mail.house.gov, 202-225-4211
  3. Get social and ask your friends to do the same #MoreFishInFL