Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Restoration Blueprint

Sarah Fangman
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
33 East Quay Road
Key West, FL 33040

Re: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Restoration Blueprint

Dear Superintendent Fangman,

On behalf of Coastal Conservation Association (CCA Florida), I would like to thank you for your dedication to conservation and management of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) and its marine resources.

CCA Florida is a not-for-profit organization and its statewide membership is comprised of nearly 20,000 conservation-minded, recreational fishing enthusiasts, who are often considered the best stewards for the marine environment. CCA Florida works to protect the health, habitat and sustainability of the state’s marine resources while keeping in mind the interests of recreational anglers and their access to Florida’s cherished resources. CCA Florida would like to take this opportunity to submit comments regarding the FKNMS Restoration Blueprint.

Over the years, CCA Florida has worked with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The Commission has done an excellent job in managing the state’s marine fisheries along with some federal fisheries. The Commission also has world-class fisheries management research and scientific assets, currently unavailable to the Sanctuary. CCA Florida requests the FKNMS allow the FWC to manage the fisheries within the Sanctuary’s boundaries, as the FWC’s dedicated staff and research center currently and effectively manage the rest of Florida’s coastal waters.

In the past, CCA Florida has been in favor of no-anchoring zones, as long as sufficient mooring buoys for access purposes are available in the proposed no anchoring zones. CCA Florida believes that the expansion of the deep reef habitat at Carysfort Sanctuary Preservation Area, Alligator Reef Sanctuary Preservation Area, Tennessee Reef Conservation Area, and Western Sambo Conservation Area should remain open to drift fishing and not a complete closure to fishing. In the shallow water no-anchoring zones, CCA Florida recommends approving the use of hydraulic/electric pole, push pole anchors. These devices can be deployed at precise areas where they will not damage the environment.

We believe that adaptive management is critical in moving forward with any new regulations. We are faced with many different problems and the Sanctuary should be able to act quickly whether there is an invasive species, vessel groundings, or water quality issue that arise throughout the year.

CCA Florida has been very involved in habitat restoration and artificial reefs over the past 10 years. We have successfully deployed 42 artificial reefs in Florida including 6 vessels and over 7,000 tons of reef modules, clean concrete and natural rock. We have restored and stabilized over 3.5 miles of shoreline, deployed over 60 tons of CCA-recycled oyster shells, deployed 30 oyster reefs, replenished more than 13 million clams, restored several acres of seagrass, and removed more than 75 tons of trash from our coastal waterways. We have completed 50 habitat projects around Florida and currently have 12 ongoing habitat projects and 15 more planned for next year. CCA urges the Sanctuary to incorporate these types of projects within their management process.

CCA Florida requests the Sanctuary not exclude recreational boaters from Blue Star programs. The Florida Keys thrives on tourist dollars brought to the local communities every year, and CCA Florida recommends using an online education program in conjunction with the Blue Star program for boat operators to use before entering these areas.

CCA Florida thanks the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary for its openness to work with all stakeholders. We look forward to continuing these conversations and keeping a balance for access.


Trip Aukeman

Director of Advocacy

Coastal Conservation Association

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