NOAA Proposes Changes to Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) proposes to expand the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) boundary, update sanctuary-wide regulations, modify and establish new marine zones, update marine zone-specific regulations, and revise the sanctuary’s non-regulatory management plan. NOAA has issued a Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) on FKNMS.
According to NOAA, the existing FKNMS Sanctuary regulations, marine zones, and management plan activities designed and implemented in the mid-1990s are no longer sufficient to ensure long-term resource protection and ecosystem function integrity into the future.
DEMA has been a supporter of the National Marine Sanctuaries since the 1990s and was heavily involved with the creation of FKNMS. DEMA has supported the reauthorization of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, testifying before congress in support of the Act and the need to permit access by non-consumptive activities such as recreational diving, reminding government and management that recreational divers, more than anyone else, see first-hand the conditions of reefs, and that diving is not an inherently “extractive” activity that depletes resources such as coral or reef fish.
Since the 1990s DEMA has been the recreational diving community’s voice for the Sanctuary Programs and is now seeking your help in continuing to express the need to protect these valuable natural assets while maintaining diver access to the Sanctuary areas.
For those local to the Florida Keys and South Florida, this fall the sanctuary will be holding a series of public meetings and accepting oral comments. Locations and times can be found here.
Please send your written comments on the proposed Sanctuary changes directly to DEMA by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to DEMA issuing comments directly to NOAA, DEMA will compile comments your and provide them directly to the NOAA Sanctuary Office to ensure that divers and dive professionals have a voice in seeking conservation of these natural resources while maintaining diver access to them.