National boating and fishing groups, concerned with long-term public access to Florida’s Biscayne National Park, expressed appreciation for recent steps toward the development of a General Management Plan for Biscayne National Park (BNP). Representatives from the State of Florida and the National Park Service met several times from July through September to resolve differences and develop solutions concerning the plan.
The National Park Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission released a joint statement saying: “Both agencies made progress to resolve differences and develop joint solutions. Discussions focused on the long term goals the park is trying to accomplish, as well as an analysis of possible management strategies for the proposed Marine Reserve Zone.”
One of the key divisive issues in the current plan is the use of a Marine Reserve Zone in Alternative Number Four. A Marine Reserve Zone, or MRZ, is a “no take” area where fishing of any kind would be prohibited. In August 2011, Biscayne National Park officials released a draft management plan that proposed to close up to 20 percent of the park’s waters to fishing. The park’s preferred alternative included a 10,000-acre marine reserve, or no-fishing zone, despite recommendations from stakeholders and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that a marine reserve is overly restrictive.
The coalition of boating and fishing groups fully supports the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission‘s longstanding position that less-restrictive management measures should be implemented in the park.
“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 stated in its letter.