Create the Marine Reserve Zone in Biscayne National Park

Create the Marine Reserve Zone in Biscayne National Park

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Robert Carroll started this petition to The United States Federal Government U.S. Department of the Interior and

Everyone who has ever visited Biscayne National Park and was able to glimpse its enduring beauty realizes what an important and special place it is. This includes recreational boaters, snorkelers, fishermen, families, spear-fishers, campers, and commercial fishermen. Yes, even the people that party at Sands Cut. We all love the park and enjoy it with a passion. But, we also need to use that love and passion to protect it. The goal of this petition is to build public support to call on the acting U.S. Secretary Of The Interior to promulgate into existence a Marine Reserve Zone as outlined in the park's newly updated General Management Plan.

In short, the only person with the power to create a Marine Reserve Zone in Biscayne National Park is the Secretary of the Interior. Join us in the effort to call upon our officials in one unified voice to add a new layer of protection to Biscayne National Park. This action will help ensure that future generations can enjoy everything that we love about our park.

For those who want to read more....

Located in South Florida, Biscayne National Park is the largest marine park in the National Park System and covers 173,000 acres, of which 95% are submerged lands. The National Park Service approved a new General Management Plan for Biscayne National Park on August 31st, 2015. The new management plan was chosen out of 8 alternatives and would be the first change to the park’s management plan since 1983. The chosen alternative, known as “Alternative 8”, was created with substantial scientific input from local, state, and federal environmental agencies as well as citizens themselves. It represents the best attainable balance of historic use, accessibility, conservation, and preservation of resources that our current system can achieve. 

The keystone feature of this new management plan is the creation of a 10,000-acre Marine Reserve Zone in the most well-preserved sections of the coral reef ecosystem. This area represents only about 6% of the park waters in total. The creation of a Maine Reserve Zone is perhaps the most important and controversial part of the new management plan and has been a subject of intense debate by opposing political and economic interests. This has debate has manifested as a black and white dichotomy that aims to pit preservation of resources against rights of access to fishing. This is a narrative in which both the people and the environment lose.  

This petition aims to stress that fishing should be allowed in Biscayne National Park as mandated at its inception as a National Monument. Also, this petition asserts that what is good for the environment is good for fishing. Ultimately though, the right to fish an area means nothing if the habitat does not adequately support legally sized fish, or if the fish do not exist. We can guarantee better fishing in the whole of the park by setting aside a small part as a no-take area where all forms of fishing are prohibited. This is reasonable. Marine reserves are a scientifically proven method of increasing fish population and size both inside and outside of the reserve area.  
Please consider the following facts about fishing in Biscayne National Park: 

  • At every reef site monitored in Biscayne National Park, a majority of species (63.8%) declined in frequency of occurrence between historical and recent periods. (Kellison. 2012)
  • Mean annual visitation during the last 5 years (2005–2010) exceeded 543,000 visitors, which represents a nearly 2.5-fold increase in visitation rates from ~30 years earlier.  
    (National Park Service Public Use Statistics Office 2011).
  • The population of Miami-Dade County grew from just under 5000 residents in 1900 to nearly 2.5 million residents in 2010. (Ault et al. 2001)
  • The recreational vessel fleet in South Florida (Broward, Collier, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach Counties) has grown substantially. The number of licensed vessels grew by 444% between 1964 and 1998 (Ault et al. 2001). 

Time is of the essence. There are more people competing for less and less resources, more than ever before. It is clear that continuing the current management paradigm will lead to further declines and less opportunities to experience and enjoy the park’s natural wonders. This includes fishing. As in finance, it is prudent to set something aside to flourish as an investment for the future. Small investments pay out huge dividends when given enough time. It is obvious that this environmental resource is being tapped beyond its ability to renew itself. The best course of action is to act now with a proven tool we know can successfully address the problem. We can ensure the greater integrity of the park resources by leaving Biscayne National Park in a better state for the future. It only requires a small investment in the present. To make it happen we simply need to create the will to do so. The creation of a marine reserve would still allow access to the area in question through diving and snorkeling expeditions. The truth is that there are many different variables contributing to environmental decline in Biscayne National Park. This includes recreational over-fishing among other things. A marine reserve is one thing that can help to address the problem directly.  

“A marine reserve is a no-fishing area that functions as a long-term management approach, which improves the size and quantity of fish and provides habitat and ecosystem protection and preservation.” (Bohnsack 1994; Bohnsack and Ault 1996; Halpern 2003; Lester et al. 2009). 

The intent of this petition is to facilitate creation of public will to sufficiently urge the acting Secretary of the Department of the Interior, in service to the will of the people and the nation, to promulgate the entirety of the new Biscayne National Park General Management Plan into immediate effect.  A promulgation is the formal proclamation or declaration that a new administrative law is enacted after its final approval. The final approval has already happened. We the people simply need to declare it into existence! All that stands in the way of the Marine Reserve Zone becoming a reality is a formal proclamation by The Secretary of the Department of the Interior. 

The promulgation is specifically to include the immediate implementation of the Marine Reserve Zone outlined in the Biscayne National Park General Management Plan, Alternative 8, as approved in the National Park Service’s Record of Decision on August 31st, 2015.  Only the will and voice of the people is strong enough to push this measure through our government procedures and out into reality. Please stand with us to give vital protection to one of the most beautiful places in the world.

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