Should Biscayne National Park become a No-Fishing Zone?

Should Biscayne National Park become a No-Fishing Zone?

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Biscayne National Park

On June 5th the National Park Service made public its finalized General Management Plan for Biscayne National Park. The officials of Biscayne National Park, despite making commitments to the park stakeholders, explore restrictive options. The general management plant covered eliminating fishing, marine reserve, and totally restricting the passage of boats in the 10,000 acres of the park’s most productive as well as popular marine waters.

This decision by Biscayne national service to implement a marine reserve in this area has left the recreational fishing community of America disheartened. Jeff Angers, president of Center for Coastal Conservations said, “We understand the importance of protecting our natural resources and the delicate balance needed to ensure that anglers and boaters are able to enjoy these public waters. However, the National Park Service has shown little interest in compromise and today’s announcement confirms a lack of desire to include the needs of park users and stakeholders in important decisions such as this.”

Over the last couple of years, an alliance of the recreational fishing and boating community has submitted constructive comments, organized discussions, and attended meetings with the leadership of National Park Service. All in a mission to balance critical conservation needs along with the need of recreational access to Biscayne park’s waters. Many management measures by various fisheries were presented to the National Park Service that would essentially balance conservation and public access. The measures included bag limits, size limits, permits, quotas, gear restrictions as well as seasonal closures. But to no avail.

“The announcement of June 5th confirmed that the officials at Biscayne National Park never had interest to explore plans to compromise with the state of Florida or stakeholders for that matter,” said the Ocean Resource Policy director Mike Leonard, for the American Sport fishing Association.  “The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, one of the nation’s leading fisheries management agencies, has stated that a marine reserve is far too restrictive, and that other management measures can achieve resource goals while still allowing for public access. The only conclusion that one can draw from this decision is that the public is simply not welcome at Biscayne National Park.”

“Anglers recognize that the condition of the fisheries resources in Biscayne National Park needs to be addressed, but we also know that once an area is closed, the public will never be allowed back in,” said the chairman of Coastal Conservation Association, Jeff Miller.

Certainly there should be an optimal balance between using our ecosystem and protecting it – sadly, the plans that have been put forward don’t offer a compromise that can meet this goal.

This fishery plan still has about a year to come into effect, but it’s still receiving heavy criticism from a lot of recreational boaters and anglers. Supporters of the plan point out the thousands of people that are in complete favor of the no-fishing zones in Biscayne national park; what the people find infuriating is that many of those people haven’t even been to this Park or live in Florida for that matter.

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