We have a little more than a week left before the meetings . . . please plan to join us if you can. I doesn't look good for fisherman right now . . . The park service is already planning to hire three additional law enforcement officers.
I was there and most people voiced opinions against the plan and alternatives. Elsa Alvear, the chief proponent of shutting down the park for fishing, wants to barrel through the plan in spite of so many problems with the plan.
Essentially, they want to punish boaters and fishermen/women for the problems with the park, when other issues beyond the activities and control of boaters and fishermen/women should be addressed, such as water issues, rising sea temperatures, commercial fishing and other activities in the park, lack of education and enforcement.
If we do not unite and act, this will be the first of many closures. And the closures they propose are going to last for 20-25 years, if not forever.
But if you only have love for your own race
Then you only leave space to discriminate
And to discriminate only generates hate
And when you hate then you're bound to get irate
It was sad that of a metro area of millions we could barely fit one room of people that cared either way enough to show up. I enjoyed seeing people stand up for their beliefs regardless of my personal views.
Couldn't make the meetings due to work, but just submitted this comment to the website :
As someone who has spent my entire life in South Florida, specifically fishing Biscayne Bay this plan is truly depressing. The mistakes of a few should not cost the general public an opportunity to use the resources. In my mind the biggest problem right now is a lack of enforcement. I have fished well over 1,000 days in the past 10 years, with at least 100 of these trips being from a vessel and probably have been checked for a fishing license, or had my catch checked on less than 5 occasions. There is virtually no risk for the poacher in Miami, and until the risk of being caught increases there will be no change in the attitudes. I have called the FWC and park service on numerous occasions to report violations, and the response was never timely enough for the guilty parties to be apprehended. Until the state makes a commitment to enforcing the regulations they place on anglers, the ones who break the law will continue to do so, regardless of how the regulations change.
Education, and enforcement are the only way things are going to change, because if the law is being ignored why should the enforcement agency think that changing the law will have any affect. Until people need to be required to pass some sort of marine environment aptitude test these problems will persist as the weekend warriors destroy the ecosystem avid anglers work so hard to protect. The impact on the economy will be substantial, the GMP is being pushed through too quickly, and getting rampant blind support from pro-environment supporters who see this as a black and white issue where only one side wants to protect the environment. This is untrue, most of the people who are strongly against these proposals need the environment to make a living and realize the NPS is going about making changes in the wrong way.
Additionally the GMP meetings being held at 6 PM on weeknights is absurd. How can regularly employed individuals working a 9-5 be expected to make it the airport area in an hour from downtown, or even worse Homestead or Key Largo. If you want to have these meetings at 6 on weeknights, at least one of them needs to be in the downtown/brickell area.
Attended the meeting last night at Fl City Hall. Had never been to one these before and found it quite different from what I expected. Here is s short summary of my thoughts and impressions:
1. The meeting was stacked in favor of the gov and the preferred alternative. This was not a give and take town hall format. No questions were allowed and no answers were to be given. They had years to prepare the plan yet speakers were only given 3 minutes to express their views with the gov bureaucrats sitting there like immutable statutes. One got the impression that what they did not want to hear was going in one ear and out the other. My way or the highway.
I attended the meeting in Fl. City. The biggest problem I see is the 10,000+ acre "no fish, no take" snorkel/dive area. They tout this area as being small, only 7% of the park area. That is misinformation, a huge disclaimer in search of public acceptance. 5% of the park is land and the majority of the park is shallow bay, creeks, and grass beds. They neglected to give this MRA as a percentage of the reef area within the park. Misleading? Yes! Did anyone stop to think that not only is the Bay and Card sound a Lobster Sanctuary and under this plan, an additional 10,322 acres is going to be a no take zone for lobster also. This MRA incorporates many areas that lobster fisherman frequent like Ajax and Long Reef.
I have no problems with Marine Reserve area(s). It would be more beneficial if they were smaller areas scattered throughout the park where a species spillover effect would actually be a viable argument. The area specified in Plan 4, which the park prefers, backs up to Hawks Channel and out to 60' of water (eastern boundary). There will be very few of the common reef fish that will spill over into Hawks Channel and the grass beds west or into deep water past the 60' mark. That leaves only 2 short spillover areas on the north and south boundaries. This large MRA would now cause increased pressure into areas to the south and north by these displaced anglers. It goes without saying that major pressure would be felt, immediately adjacent to the small north and south spill over zones of the MRA.
Before anyone takes this the wrong way. As an offshore fisherman, very seldom do I ever use this proposed marine reserve area for anything, not even bait, so this is not a personal thing for me. I think their science and thinking of this MRA is completely flawed. They have picked this area because they can only dictate fishing policies within the original monument boundaries, not the expanded National Park boundaries.
#1. This has been a National Park for over 25 years and yet many people who use the areas within it have no idea that they are in Biscayne National Park, let alone what Biscayne National Park is. Education is the primary need the Park should focus on.
#2. The Park doesn't have enough Law enforcement to cover the area and laws as it stands now. It will be even more difficult, regardless of the 3 additional officers proposed, to enforce the additional proposed regulations. That leads to even more frustration to those of us who abide by the laws and see others who don't, repeatedly going unchecked. Anchoring in the coral is the worst offense I see out there, time and time again.
Fishing regulations, size/bag limits, closures, etc. change every 6 months. It is increasingly harder every year to keep up with all the rules created by all these agencies (FWC, NOAA, NMFS, SAFMC) who individually make fisheries rules with no uniformity. Offshore fisherman deal with this all the time because we fish in federal waters but must traverse and dock in state waters. Now BNP wants to throw yet another set of rules into the mix for their jurisdiction.
The Park management plan should focus more on #1 and #2, mentioned above, before implementing more restrictions on the "people" who supposedly own this park. Of course as we all too often see, the best way to manage something efficiently is to prohibit its use
If you didn't attend any of the meetings, you should voice your comments and opinions via email at the very least. If you remain silent, you have nobody to blame but yourself, for the outcome. This is YOUR park... it belongs to you and your kids.