Possible Fishing Closures in the Florida Keys

fisheries_mgmt_300x180The waters surrounding the Florida Keys are managed by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS), which is currently developing changes to its General Management Plan (GMP) that may significantly impact recreational fishing access and management. For anglers this means potentially significant changes to recreational fishing in the sanctuary, including more restrictive fishing regulations and new or expanded marine no-fishing zones.

The development of a revised GMP is led by the FKNMS Sanctuary Advisory Council and is expected to last into 2015. 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 a revised GMP, the Advisory Council established three working groups to craft recommendations on their area of interest for consideration by the Advisory Council. These working groups developed recommendations that will significantly affect recreational fishing and boating in the sanctuary, including new or expanding no-fishing zones and implementing “user fees” or alternative funding mechanisms. The Sanctuary Advisory Council adopted all three working groups’ recommendations as a final package during summer 2014, which will be used by the Superintendent to craft official alternatives for a Draft Environmental Impact Statement. NOAA indicates a Draft EIS will be released in spring 2015, followed by periods of public comment.

KeepAmericaFishing encouraged anglers in south Florida to become aware and engaged in the FKNMS GMP process.