Biscayne National Park considers fishing ban, schedules public hearings
A coral reef at Biscayne National Park. These beautiful habitats are in need of protection from over-fishing.
Biscayne National Park is 173,000-acre marine park, which covers shorelines and coral reefs in southern Biscayne Bay, Florida. Their waters are home to coral reefs and a wide variety of fish, including popular sporting fish such as groupers and snappers. The National Park Service is currently contemplating several proposals to help protect the park's wildlife. The NPS is now accepting written comments and plans to hold public hearings to discuss the hot topic (schedule below).
View the proposal at www.parkplanning.nps.gov/bisc (click on General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement)
As native Atlantic predators are overfished, invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish are growing at alarming rates.
Researchers have documented sharp declines in both the size and numbers of fish species in these waters. In a study published in June, 2011, scientists also discovered that as grouper and snapper populations dwindle, invasive lionfish populations increase seven-fold because groupers and snappers compete for food with lionfish as well as prey on lionfish directly. The loss of top predators have also been shown to create widespread disruptions to ecosystems.
The National Park Service is weighing several alternative plans but prefers a plan which includes the establishment of a no-fishing zone. However, they are likely going to encounter heavy resistance from the sport fishing industry; Sport fishing in Biscayne Bay is a popular and lucrative activity.
No-fishing zones are exactly what tropical reefs in the Atlantic need to right now in order to set ecosystems back in balance. I recommend anyone who wishes their voice heard to write to the National Park Service and/or attend one of the three public hearings scheduled in Florida in September, 2011. The sport-fishing industry will be lobbying against these proposals, so it is critically important reef lovers must speak up as well.
Written comments on the plan may be sent to:
Biscayne National Park GMP
National Park Service
M. Elmer (DSC–P)
P.O. Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287
The schedule of public hearings:
Sept. 13, 6-9 p.m.
Crowne Plaza Hotel
Miami International Airport
950 NW 42 Ave
Miami, FL 33126
Sept. 14, 6-9 p.m.
Florida City City Hall
404 W. Palm Drive
Florida City, FL 33034
Sept. 15, 6-9 p.m.
Holiday Inn Key Largo
99701 Overseas Highway
Key Largo, Florida 33037
[via the Sun-Sentinel]