Ocean Protection
November 01 2019

The Future of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

by Holly Parker

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is home to the only barrier coastal reef in the continental U.S. It's also home to thousands of marine species and a much loved recreational resource for fishing, boating, diving, and much more. The Sanctuary is also a huge economic driver, contributing $4.4 billion to Florida's economy and supporting 43,000 jobs. Sadly, Florida's coral reefs are increasingly vulnerable and distressed, as they experience impacts from disease, water pollution, and climate change. The draft Restoration Blueprint is NOAA's proposal for managing the Sanctuary in a way that will most effectively protect these ecological, economic, and recreational intersts.

NOAA is seeking public coment on the draft proposal through January 31, 2020. The Blueprint will govern how the Sanctuary is managed, including determining the boundaries of the Sanctuary, regulations, and marine zoning. The current proposal is a draft and includes a range of alternatives. In many ways this portion of the planning process is about identifying priorities, reconciling differences, and figuring out where there need to be tradeoffs. Click here to view the proposed plans.

Balancing competing interests if no small task, and long-term planning for these resources can get very contentious. To that end, here are some recommendations that the Surfrider Foundation considers important. We strongly encourage everyone to submit their own comments to NOAA, including information on what you like and what you don't like in their plans. At this stage in the planning process, it's totally acceptable to pick and choose ideas from each of the alternatives- you can, for example, like Alternative 3 but oppose certain restrictions on access. The most important thing is to let NOAA hear from you!

Click here to submit your comments!

Public Meetings:

December 10th, 1-9pm:  Sanctuary Advisory Council Meeting, Islander Restort, 82100 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, FL