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July 29, 2009

Fishing access threatened in Biscayne National Park

Interested parties-- which is anyone who ever fished Biscayne National Park or ever intends to--are urged to register comments through August 2

If proposed Marine Reserve Zones are established  in Biscayne National Park, fishing in one of the most popular sections of the park may soon be a thing of the past.

CCA Florida has issued a grassroots alert, a call for public response, to the proposed no fishing zones.

While the precise area considered for closure has not been announced, observers are certain it would lie east of Elliott Key. This area has traditionally been ground zero for tarpon fishing, as it is along the migration path the fish follow every spring. Flats from 2 to 6 feet deep are abundant in this area and it is an important location for this catch-and-release fishery. Shallower flats, along the shoreline of Elliott are renowned as bonefish and permit grounds. Hawk Channel, and the patch reefs inside of the 60-foot depth contour would also be closed under such an implementation.

Biscayne National Park is taking public comment on the Marine Reserve Zones until August 2, a period that is uncustomarily short. Publicity on the hearings has been minimal. The park appears to have rushed the public meetings through with little or no advance warning.

"I didn't find out about the comment period until the day of the first meeting," says Jeff Allen, vice chairman,  CCA Florida. Allen reports that CCA Florida has petitioned the Park for an extension of the public comment period.

Interested parties-- which is anyone who ever fished Biscayne National Park or ever intends to--are urged to register comments at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/bisc through August 2.