Last week, NMMA submitted comments to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) regarding its draft environmental impact statement for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), also known as the Restoration Blueprint. The FKNMS is a critical marine habitat and destination for recreational boaters and anglers all over the word, with millions visiting each year. Understanding the significant pressure on the sanctuary and changing environmental conditions, NMMA supports a plan that responsibly balances resource protection with user access.
In general, NMMA said it supports Alternative Plan 2 because it balances recreation access while providing much-needed protections to critical natural resources. The need for the proposed action is based on widespread, acute, chronic, and emerging threats to marine resources in the Florida Keys. The existing marine zones and management plan activities designed and implemented by FKNMS in 1997 are no longer adequate to ensure the long-term health and protection of this ecosystem.
NMMA also raised concerns on a range of topics and offered solutions regarding the proposed Restoration Blueprint. These topics include:
- The Need for Collaborative and Coordinated Fisheries Management with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission;
- Allocating Appropriate Resources to Law Enforcement;
- Expansion of the Sanctuary Boundary;
- Sanctuary-Wide Regulations;
- Proposed Modifications to Marine Zones; and
NMMA said it will continue to work with NOAA and the FKNMS staff to ensure a proper balance of recreational access and resource protection.
For more information, please contact NMMA senior vice president of government and legal affairs, Nicole Vasilaros at firstname.lastname@example.org or NMMA manager of southeast policy and engagement, Lee Gatts at email@example.com.