December 16, 2011
Short-term success achieved for anglers that boat and fish in Biscayne National Park.
A proposal to implement a large no-fishing zone within Biscayne National Park near north Key Largo could remain under review by federal officials until next summer. The plan to outlaw fishing in 10,522 acres of water, about six miles from Angelfish Creek on North Key Largo, has drawn criticism from recreational fishermen and fishing groups.
A coalition of sportfishing groups including the Coastal Conservation Association and the International Game Fish Association objected to the marine reserve and possible fishing-access permits in its written remarks to the park. "Conventional, equally effective and less restrictive fisheries management strategies should be evaluated and enforced before considering the implementation of marine reserves or other overly restrictive options," the group said.
Since Biscayne National Park's 164,000 acres of marine area includes state waters, the FWC is charged with assisting the Park Service in drawing fishing regulations for the area. However, the Park Service also is required to follow its own fishery management plan to ensure that fish numbers remain "sustainable." The marine-reserve proposal is part of Biscayne National Park's management plan, being updated for the first time in nearly three decades.
In a statement on the reserve, Park Superintendent Mark Lewis said, "Over the years, the park's reefs and reef fish populations have undergone a dramatic decline in health and abundance. With a no-take marine reserve, we hope to be able to offer our visitors the opportunity to see and experience a healthy reef while improving fishing outside the proposed zone."
Read complete details at the Keynoter website.