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Boaters: What's your vision of the future for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary?

by Scott Croft 26 Oct 2019 09:05 PDT
Boaters and anglers have a chance to comment on the future of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. © Bob Krist / Florida Keys News Bureau

For the first time since its creation in 1990, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is giving recreational boaters and anglers the unique opportunity to help shape its future by commenting on the draft Restoration Blueprint.

The plan could expand the sanctuary's boundary, update regulations, modify and establish new marine zones, and revise its nonregulatory management plan.

So what do boaters want?

Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) urges recreational boaters to speak up now to have their voices heard at upcoming public meetings held in the Sunshine State through December 10. Boaters unable to attend a meeting may also send comments online, or mail to Sarah Fangman, Sanctuary Superintendent, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, 33 East Quay Road, Key West, FL 33040. Comments will be accepted through January 31, 2020.

"Recreational boaters and anglers want the continued ability to recreate on these pristine waters," said BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy, "However, boater/ anglers are just one of many different constituent groups on the restoration plan. It's important we speak up on what we want the future to look like. Habitat threat from hurricanes, disease, rising ocean temperatures, pollution and human interactions will all be addressed."

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Restoration Blueprint proposal public meetings will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Coral Gables, Fort Myers and Marathon and will accept oral and written comment. Coral Gables and Fort Myers meetings also will provide information and answers to written questions.

October 28, Coral Gables: University of Miami Newman Alumni Center, 6200 San Amaro Drive
November 4, Fort Myers: Holiday Inn Airport at Town Center, 9931 Interstate Commerce Drive
November 6, Marathon: Marathon Middle High School, 350 Sombrero Beach Road

Additionally, on December 10 a NOAA Sanctuary Council Advisory Meeting will be held from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Islander Resort, 82100 Overseas Highway, Islamorada. RSVP is required, and the public may provide oral or written comment. Boaters may also view the Sanctuary Advisory Council's live-streamed meetings on its YouTube channel.

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