BISCAYNE NATIONAL PARK PUBLIC COMMENT
DECEMBER 9th, 10th & 11th
Biscayne National Park will hold three public comment sessions next week concerning its “Supplemental Draft General Management Plan” (GMP). CCA Florida encourages you to attend and voice your opinion. The National Park Service (NPS) GMP contains seven alternatives, two of which are new. Alternatives 6 and 7 each establish a “Special Recreation Zone” (SRZ). Under Alternative 6 the following rules will apply within the SRZ:
- recreational fishing allowed year round but a special permit will be required:
- hook and line fishing only
- no grouper harvest allowed
- no lobster harvest (recreational or commercial)
- no spearfishing, with the exception of nonnative lionfish
- anchoring is prohibited, additional mooring buoys to be installed
Under Alternative 6 access to the SRZ will be allowed based upon a limited number of annual permits (430 to recreational fishermen / 70 to guides / none for spear fishing). Alternative 7 is essentially identical to Alternative 6 except that it allows general access to the SRZ, but, it is completely closed to fishing during the summer months.
Alternate 6 is the NPS new preferred alternative and it eliminates the large marine reserve (no fishing zone) that was universally rejected by Florida's recreational anglers. The preferred alternative also removes the large no combustion engine zones and in their place includes slow-speed and no-wake zones.
CCA has concerns with the new preferred alternative offering such a limited number of annual permits. The plan does not require the permit to be used or forfeited; nor, does it allow for the issuance of short-term permits.
Shared permits would allow for more access and should include short duration access for visitors, including out of state anglers that desire to fish the Park as part of their vacation. The Preferred Alternative prohibits anchoring within the SRZ except when attached to a mooring buoy. Since there are very few of these mooring buoys currently in place, users will be effectively prohibited from fishing in many instances. CCA believes the NPS must also include a plan and fund additional mooring buoys to provide realistic access and avoid user conflicts. If, as suggested in the plan, there is concern for the SRZ’s grouper population, descending devices could be required. The NPS should also consider limited access for seasonal trolling for pelagic species.
The NPS needs to address concerns of those who spearfish or fish east of the Park's boundary and that transit through the Park's SRZ as they return to port. Thus, direct transit through the SRZ with disallowed gear stowed should be permitted.
The NPS will hold three public comment sessions. All interested parties are encouraged to attend at least one of the three identical public meetings as follows:
1. December 9th, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Newman Alumni Center, University of Miami, 6200 San Amaro Drive, Coral Gables, FL
2. December 10th, 6:00 -9:00 p.m.
City Hall, Commission Chambers, 404 West Palm Drive, Florida City, FL
3. December 11th, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Holiday Inn Key Largo, 99701 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL
CCA Florida encourages you to attend and voice your concerns regarding the Preferred Alternative. Ask the NPS to increase the number of SRZ permits, set aside a number of permits for shared use including seasonal or split day access and require that permits which are not used within an established time period to be available for reassignment. Tell the NPS that the prohibition on anchoring should not be implemented until funding and installation of mooring buoys is undertaken. The Park Service must also provide for through transit of those who have legally taken fish outside the SRZ.
If you are unable to attend one of the comment sessions, please click here to review the GMP and electronically provide your comments.