Possible Fishing Closures in the Florida Keys
The waters surrounding the Florida Keys are managed by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), which recently released their “Restoration Blueprint” that will have some impacts on recreational fishing access and management. For anglers this means changes to recreational fishing in the sanctuary, including more restrictive fishing regulations and new or expanded marine no-fishing zones.
The development of the FKNMS Restoration Blueprint was led by the FKNMS Sanctuary Advisory Council and revealed at their August 2019 meeting. The Advisory Council is comprised of representatives of various stakeholder groups including recreational boating, environmental interests, divers, both commercial and recreational fishing, tourism and others. The Advisory Council holds no regulatory authority, but rather provides input and advice to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which makes regulatory changes to sanctuary management and operations. However, the Advisory Council’s input holds considerable weight.
To aid in the development of the plan, the Advisory Council established multiple working groups to craft recommendations on their area of interest for consideration by the Advisory Council. The Restoration Blueprint plan is long and complex, and careful study and angler and boater input is needed to ensure that the final product maximizes access while addressing the needs of the Sanctuary. There will be multiple public comment sessions and KeepAmericaFishing and Keep Florida Fishing are encouraging anglers in south Florida to become aware and engaged in the FKNMS Blueprint process by either attending these sessions or submitting your written comments.