Ros-Lehtinen Continues to Fight for Fishermen, Families, and Conservationists Over Biscayne National Park’s Proposed No-fishing Marine Reserve Zone

May 7, 2017

Ros-Lehtinen Continues to Fight for Fishermen, Families, and Conservationists Over Biscayne National Park’s Proposed No-fishing Marine Reserve Zone

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R – FL) has continuously expressed concern over the General Management Plan (GMP) proposed by Biscayne National Park (BNP) that eliminates fishing access across 10,500 acres of Park waters. Access Restrictions have been proposed along one section of reef tract with no scientifically-supported benefit to the Park's corals and despite concerns that fishing pressures may be greatly increased in other areas of Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys. Ros-Lehtinen hopes that continued Congressional involvement will spur the National Park Service to reestablish its previously productive relationship with the State of Florida to target real solutions to protect and enhance Biscayne's coral reefs instead of targeting the fishermen and families who rely on, and truly care for, this irreplaceable public resource for their livelihoods and cherished outdoor experiences. Ros-Lehtinen requested that the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies include report language, which was successfully incorporated, that recognizes the controversy related to the implementation of a no-fishing marine reserve zone at BNP without adequate scientific baseline data, and urges continued resolution of the issue through collaboration between the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the National Park Service for the benefit of all park users and imperiled coral reef resources.

Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“I am pleased that my colleagues in Congress have recognized the negative impact that a no-fishing marine reserve zone as outlined in Biscayne National Park’s General Management Plan would have on our South Florida community. While I understand that the purpose of the GMP is to promote coral reef conservation and recovery, which I support, scientific studies have shown that local factors such as fishing have far less impact on these natural resources than regional and global trends like warming seas, invasive species, and coral disease outbreaks. Biscayne National Park's coral reefs are an environmental treasure that can only be saved by mutual cooperation and a thorough planning process that involves all of our local stakeholders to find real conservation and restoration solutions. I will continue fighting to ensure that the thousands of families, fishermen, and conservation-minded visitors who enjoy this wonderful park and care so deeply about its future are not denied access."

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