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The Coastal Conservation Association-FL (“CCA”) is pleased to submit its comments to the Supplement Draft General Management Plan and specifically to the Preferred Alternative, the Alternative 6. CCA has been involved in this process for over ten (10) years and its local members have actively participated in the process. Many of CCA’s members have been lifelong users of the park and were active in this process. It is from that background that these comments are made.CCA was formed to advise and educate the public on the conservation of marine resources and its objective is to conserve, promote, and enhance the present and future availability of those coastal resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public. CCA is the largest organization of its kind in the United States and has over 100,000 members with almost 10,000 located in the State of Florida. Many of CCA’s members, both local and from other states enjoy fishing in Florida and especially in the waters of Biscayne National Park.Recreational fishing in Florida is a multi-billion dollar industry and its value to the State exceeds that of citrus. Recreational fishing not only is a significant economic engine, but it provides good wholesome activities for families and people of all backgrounds. Its social impact can’t be underestimated. The Park is situated in the sportfishing and arguably the boating capital of America.
Biscayne National Parks (BNP) new preferred alternative for its Draft General Management Plan (GMP) provides some relief for recreational anglers from the previous alternatives. In the past, CCA Florida has seen alternatives introduced by BNP that would close vast areas to fishing and boating enthusiasts. CCA Florida is relieved to see that the preferred alternative has removed the previous large, no fishing zones and reduced the size of the no motor zones. CCA Florida objected to these closures and believes that such closures should be seen as the last resort and not a starting point.Alternative 6 establishes a Special Recreational Zone (SRZ) in place of the no fishing zone. Angler access to the SRZ will be by permit only and the plan will allow for 500 annual permits to be issued. Out of the 500 permits, 430 will be put into a lottery system for recreational anglers and 70 will be for licensed guides.
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