Dive Industry Businesses Speak Out on Behalf of Protection for Florida Keys
Thursday, January 30, 2020
More than 50 dive businesses, industry groups, and individuals signed and delivered a letter urging the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to take action to protect and restore Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the species and seascapes on which the dive industry depends.
READ THE DIVE COMMUNITY’S LETTER
Annually, recreational diving in Florida generates more than $1 billion in revenue, more than a quarter of a billion dollars in wages, and almost 12,000 jobs. More than 1.6 million divers and snorkelers per year visit the Florida Keys. Because of this, the dive community acts as a steward of the underwater environment, which is under increasing threat from water quality and pollution issues due to urban runoff, marine debris, and other dangers.
NOAA is soliciting comments until January 31 on the Restoration Blueprint, its plan to restore and protect the sanctuary. In its letter, the dive community urged NOAA and FWC to address degraded water quality; enhance enforcement on the water; strengthen the mooring buoy network; strengthened protections in Sanctuary Preservation Areas; promote stewardship education programs, including the Blue Star dive and fishing programs; and other protection measures.
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects spectacular, unique, and nationally significant marine resources stretching from Miami to the Tortugas, including North America’s only coral barrier reef, extensive seagrass beds, mangrove-fringed islands, and more than 6,000 species of marine life. The sanctuary also protects an estimated 800 underwater historic sites. As one of North America’s most popular diving and fishing destinations, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary supports the region’s success in global tourism, with more than half the jobs in Monroe County tied to ocean activities.