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Help keep Biscayne Park open

StillinscrubsStillinscrubs Posts: 1,844 Officer

Time to take 5 minutes and send in a comment to keep Biscayne park open to us.

Help Keep Biscayne Bay Open to Recreational Fishing and Boating
The park's new management plan threatens to close over 20 percent of the park to recreational fishing

The Situation

Located adjacent to Miami, Biscayne (Bay) National Park (BNP) is the largest marine park in the National Park system and one of the country's largest urban recreational fishing areas. The park supports approximately 10 million angler trips per year. BNP's management team is currently updating the park's General Management Plan (GMP), which will have a profound impact on recreational fishing and other popular visitor activities. The recently released draft GMP presents five alternative management plans, which range from extending the current management plan to closing over 20 percent of the park's public waters to recreational fishing.

The current preferred alternative that is endorsed by park managers will establish a 10,522 acre marine reserve, or no fishing zone, and several "no combustion engine zones" which act as de facto no-fishing zones because their large size makes most of the waters inaccessible.

By attempting to implement marine reserves, BNP officials are disregarding an agreement with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, which states that marine reserves are overly restrictive as management tools, as well as the recommendations of the BNP Fisheries Management Plan working group. The working group was comprised of recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, divers, scientists and environmental groups who based their recommendations on sound fisheries management practices – these recommendations did not include marine reserves.

Take Action Now!

The draft GMP (PDF, 10MB) calls for drastic changes affecting everyone who fishes, boats, paddles, dives or spearfishes in BNP. Park managers are accepting public comment on the draft plan through October 31, 2011. KeepAmericaFishing™ encourages all anglers concerned about recreational access to voice their opposition to the unwarranted and excessive restrictions on recreational fishing and boating in the Biscayne National Park draft GMP.

To officially submit comments to the National Park Service, visit http://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentF...cumentID=42715. Suggested comments are included below.

Submit your comments today!

Suggested Comments:

As one of this nation's 40 million anglers, I am opposed to several elements proposed in the draft General Management Plan (GMP) for Biscayne National Park (BNP). While I understand the need to update the GMP to better fit the needs of current visitors, the "no combustion engine zones" and "marine reserve zones" proposed in alternatives 2, 3, 4 (the National Park Service's preferred alternative) and 5 are not the most effective or appropriate way to do so and I strongly oppose them.

BNP is a very popular saltwater recreational fishing area in Florida and its urban location makes it a very important place for outdoor recreation. Recreational fishing is a popular activity within BNP, with over 10 million angler trips per year. The new GMP should address overfishing in BNP while still allowing for public access to public resources via recreational fishing and boating.

While intensive fishing pressure in BNP is clearly an issue that must be addressed in the new GMP, the National Park Service does not have sufficient basis for implementing marine reserves at this time given the range of appropriate and effective alternatives that can be employed. Marine reserves are just one tool among the suite of resources available for effective fisheries management, and should be considered only after more conventional and less restrictive management strategies (e.g., size limits, bag limits, quotas, gear restrictions) have failed.

The most significant concern facing BNP's natural resources is not the allowance of typical recreational fishing and boating uses, but inadequate enforcement of current regulations. If adequate resource management measures are currently in place, but not being enforced, recreational anglers and boaters should not be penalized because park managers view marine reserves as a quick and easy fix.

By closing large areas of BNP to recreational anglers and boaters, managers will be restricting another opportunity for Floridians and visitors from across the country to engage with the outdoors and become committed conservationists. With the widespread distribution of recreational fishing that occurs throughout BNP, any marine reserve of significant size will inevitably shut anglers out of favorite fishing areas, keeping anglers off the water, out of the park and diminishing the economic benefit of sportfishing to the local economy.

Because they contain unwarranted marine reserves, "no combustion engine zones" which act as de facto marine reserves, and/or "access by permit only" zones, I am opposed to Alternatives 2, 3, 4 and 5 in the GMP. BNP officials should address the problem of overfishing in Biscayne National Park, and I urge you to evaluate more conventional, equally effective and less restrictive fisheries management strategies before considering the implementation of marine reserves or other overly restrictive options.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

I added this to my comments as the off limits zones to all people will turn into nothing more than lionfish sanctuaries.

The exclusion zones/reserves will simply act as lion fish sanctuaries as there are lion fish in all areas of the park. Many recreational anglers and spearfishers such as myself spend extra time trying to eradicate this invasive species from the park. Stopping access of legal anglers and spearfishers who care about the resource will only serve to damage it through unintended protection of the lion fish.
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