December 11, 2013

National Park Service Offers Plan to Keep Biscayne National Park Open to Boating and Fishing

The November 15 release of the supplemental General Management Plan for Biscayne Bay National Park marks a step in the right direction from an earlier proposed drastic 16 square-mile no-take marine reserve. The new preferred alternative identifies a 14,585 acre special recreation zone that would allow fishing year round with a special permit and includes no-wake zones as opposed to non-combustion engine zones along the coastline. The plan calls for the permitting system to be administered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and to include 500 total permits, with 430 for recreational anglers and 70 for licenses guides. 

While the alternative plan is a welcomed sign, it is also a new approach to balancing resource management priorities and recreational pursuits in National Park Service (NPS) waters.  The potential precedent it would set for future recreational angling on NPS waters is unclear.  Additionally, the permitting system is a vast improvement from the original no-take proposal but still has areas to consider. Specifically, stakeholders have expressed concerns over moorings in the special recreation zone, the number of permits issued, the potential need for limited use permits, and a “use it or lose it” requirement with the permit.

Recreational boaters and anglers are encouraged to attend public meetings or submit written comments on the new proposed alternatives.  Comments are being accepted until February 20 and can be submitted online by clicking here.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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