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Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary needs YOUR help

Discussion in 'Florida' started by timg, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. timg

    timg Professional Photographer

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Key Largo, FL
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    Important Florida Keys information - the future of the reef is being discussed

    The following is a letter from Martin Moe, a Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council member, to the editor of the local newspaper. For a summary of the science we were presented in the Ecosystem Protection Working Group meetings, go to this pdf file: http://timgimages.com/PDF/SanctuaryScienceSeriesSummary.pdf

    If you are in the Florida Keys and can attend any of these meetings, please do so. We need support from the diving community. We are getting an overload of misinformed commercial fishermen at these meetings. They have been scared and manipulated by by their paid lobbyist into thinking everyone is out to destroy the commercial fishery here, which is as far from the truth as you can get. I am a member of the Ecosystem Protection Working Group, and our goal is to enhance all segments of the economy through ecosystem-based management practices, which have proven to be highly successful in many areas of the planet. Read the science summary to get a feel for what we are discussing.
    ________________________________
    To the Editor:

    The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FNKNS) is conducting a review of Sanctuary regulations, including the rules and boundaries for marine zones in the Sanctuary and surrounding national wildlife refuges in preparation for development of a revision of the Sanctuary Management Plan. Much has changed since the last revision of the Management Plan in 2005.

    The environmental conditions of our Sanctuary continue to decline. The Florida Keys Sanctuary Condition Report of 2011 (National Marine Sanctuaries Condition Reports - Florida Keys) documents the evaluation of the critical elements of our Sanctuary as Good, Good/Fair, Fair, Fair/Poor, Poor, and Undetermined. Of the 17 questions used to rate the conditions of the critical elements of Water, Habitat, Living Resources, and Maritime Archaeological Resources, none are Good, only one is Good/Fair, three are Fair, 10 are Fair/Poor, one is Poor, and one is Undetermined.

    After decades of monitoring the decline of our marine environments, we are now developing the science and technology that will add Restoration to the Sanctuary tool kit of Preservation, Conservation, Education and Outreach, Management, and Enforcement. In addition to monitoring the condition of our Living Marine Natural Resources we can now work on active ecosystem restoration. We can grow and restore the critical species, corals, herbivores and others, that are essential to the health of our marine ecosystems. In order to accomplish preservation and restoration of our Sanctuary we need to revisit the marine zoning, boundaries, and rules of our Sanctuary.

    The Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC), made up of representatives from Keys communities, is the front line of this revision. Our suggestions and plans will be the first outline for Sanctuary and legal efforts at Management Plan development. The SAC needs community involvement and suggestions to make this plan compatible with the economic, recreational, and environmental requirements of Keys residents. So far the commercial elements of the community have been very vocal with a message that additional zoning and regulation is not welcome. However, environmental considerations, including restoration and ecological protection are also very important. The plan will require the consensus, compromise, and cooperation of the community. Compromise is difficult and it cannot be reached if only one element of the community provides input. We need not only the commercial elements but also those with recreational and environmental interests to provide council and opinion.

    There are four public meetings this month to seek community input on development of the new management plan for the Sanctuary. We need all perspectives to be represented at these meetings.

    Martin Moe, SAC member, Education and Outreach


    Meeting Dates and Locations - all meetings have 2 sessions, 5PM and 6:30PM


    Monday, September 23
    Key Colony Beach City Hall, 600 West Ocean Drive, Key Colony Beach, FL 33051
    Focus Area: Middle Keys


    Tuesday, September 24
    Hilton Key Largo Resort, 97000 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, FL 33037
    Focus Area: Upper Keys


    Wednesday, September 25
    Doubletree Grand Key Resort, 3990 South Roosevelt Boulevard, Key West, FL 33040
    Focus Area: Lower Keys


    Thursday, September 26
    Doubletree Grand Key Resort, 3990 South Roosevelt Boulevard, Key West, FL 33040
    Focus Area: Marquesas and Tortugas
     
  2. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

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    Tim, this may or may not be the time and place, but I assure you I'll be there next week. I read the draft recommendations, which in part (I think it was alternative 5 to the tortugas closures) recommended closing all of the tortugas, including the diving only areas, as well as the areas where fishing is allowed, and make them transit only zones. Those draft recommendations have been taken down from the AC website, but HOW THE HELL DO YOU EXPECT PEOPLE TO RESPOND TO THAT? No one will argue louder than I that the Tortugas closures in 2000 were timely, needed, and effective. We know this because the science supports the outcome, with populations of black grouper up 78% and the increase in the population of Mutton Snapper (I saw 2 in 1999, and 20,000 or so this year) on the increase also.

    The yellow lines on the maps looked like everyone with a pen was allowed to close off the areas that they thought would be nice to close. What science backs up the massive Marquesas closure? That closure includes the site of the Atocha, BTW. This was an ill thought out proposal that has no basis in science, and appears to be a closure that directly closes off all areas where known spawning aggregations are. Although I wouldn't fight to close off the spawns, you are looking at closing whole areas of the ocean at times when fish aren't spawning. Protecting fish populations is the purview of NMFS, not NMS, and the Magnussen-Stevens act directly forbids anyone from protecting fish populations aside from NMFS.

    I offered my services to the SAC when the working groups were formed, relying on my experience as SAC chairman at FGBNMS and the head of the boundary expansion working group there. My offer was more than rejected, it was sniffed at, so if you guys went and said a bunch of stuff that would have better said after a lot of thought instead of shooting from the hip, well, all I can say is you deserve the response you got.

    I would not expect next weeks meetings to be uncontentious, and if divers really want to support you, they need to come informed and read the proposals. The proposals from the meeting in July are unpalatable to any diver, boater, or fisherman.

    Anyone who would like to read the first draft from July, it's available here: http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/review/documents/20130716draftmapsconcensusballot.pdf
     
    jimw and oneshotshooter like this.
  3. tekkydiver

    tekkydiver Regular of the Pub

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    So it may be clear to everyone. It is the goal of the National Park Service to keep visitors (we the people) out both Dry Tortugas and Everglades National Park. It is being done slowly over time in small incremental steps. A closure here, another one there, vessel restrictions.... it is all leading in one direction and they won't stop.
     
  4. reefman

    reefman Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: key largo, fl
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    Not so clear to me!

    for clarification:

    everglades national park is led by the National park service in the US department of the interior

    Florida keys national marine sanctuary is under the control of NOAA, a branch of the US department of commerce


    having said that, different agencies, both under federal government control,,,,,,,,,


    reefman
    key largo
     
    CajunDiva and Wookie like this.
  5. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

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    However, there is a Dry Tortugas National Park as Tekkydiver stated, and at their last Management Plan Review they closed off a large portion of the park to consumptive uses. I believe that's what Tekkydiver was getting at, although it has no bearing on this thread.
     
    CajunDiva and reefman like this.
  6. reefman

    reefman Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: key largo, fl
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    good point. the superintendent of both everglades and dry tortugas NP's, is dave Kimball (combined positon). tough job,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


    reefman
    key largo
     
  7. HalcyonDaze

    HalcyonDaze Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Miami
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    As I recall, Tortugas isn't an independent NPS park unit - it's under the management of Everglades National Park, which is currently refining a new, long-overdue General Management Plan. I've followed that discussion with ENP, and it seems like similar arguments are being made - more is being closed off than is needed to protect the resource.

    For my $0.02 as a private citizen who may or may not have all the details, the guts of the problem in that case are a) the parks don't have the personnel needed to patrol the area and enforce regulations, b) as a result the management and rangers often know less about the resource than members of the public using it, and c) often management decisions get handed down from HQ in Denver, which has even less of an idea what's going on. The latter bit also tends to emphasize the legal fiddly bits of things like wilderness designations, and thus errs on the side of locking the resource in a box where nobody's supposed to go.
     
  8. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

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    This isn't about a park. The Dry Tortugas National Park has a relatively new General Management Plan anyway, about 5 years old. This is about a sanctuary, the largest sanctuary. This is about potentially setting aside another 100 square miles of ocean, where the minimum impact would be no fishing, and the maximum impact could be no activity. This sanctuary stretches from Carysfort reef to out past dry Tortugas and Tortugas bank. The new MPAs would be scattered along that whole length.

    I am not against MPAs. When the plan for these alternatives was presented to the public in the link in the second post, they were particularly poorly thought put. The working group put no science behind their suggestions, only that the new closures were needed to "protect the environment". My argument is "protect the resource from who?" We aren't considering closing Sand Key in Key West, where the pod people on snorkel boats drinking rum punch at 10 in the morning are standing on the coral. We aren't talking about protecting molasses, which arguably sees the highest concentration of divers per day of anywhere in the keys. No, we're talking about further closures at Carysfort, Western Sambo, Looe Key, Western Dry Rocks, and any identified spawning area in the keys. They want to close a huge tract of Marquesas. They don't know why they want to close it, so the excuse is that they want to close it because they don't have a ecological reserve there. We don't have one, so we're going to make one up.

    Remember, these are potential closures, nothing is a sure thing. Even if the area is closed, what the area is closed to has not been determined. I too encourage everyone to come to these meetings. I encourage everyone to be educated prior to showing up, and the links are in post 2, and ask the questions of this working group that need to be asked. Some of those questions might be "what are we protecting the resource from?"
     
  9. timg

    timg Professional Photographer

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Key Largo, FL
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    Frank,

    Thank you for your detailed response, and I am glad you are going to the meetings in Key West.

    You are correct. None of the over 100 ideas on that original package have been recommended, voted on, or at this point even had much discussion. We (the Working Group members) asked for more public meetings so interested folks like you can come and give their thoughts and opinions. We knew we were not done yet, and needed more public input to the process. A Working Group member in your area you probably know is Don DeMaria.

    All the presentations from all the scientists are under the Notes tab on the Working Group web site at Ecosystem Protection: Ecological Reserves, Preservation Areas and Wildlife Protection Workgroup Open a month and it's there. The downside of that is we do not have video of the scientist making the presentation, only the powerpoint they used.

    In my original post there is also a link to excerpts from my columns from every scientist I interviewed during this process.

    As you say, we know reserves work based on the Dry Tortugas experience. Here is a link to a study of over 120 reserves with similar experiences: http://timgimages.com/PDF/BusinessCaseforReserves.pdf

    And another study on marine reserves and replenishment of fished stocks:
    http://www.timgimages.com/PDF/Halpern_etal_2010_EnvCons.pdf

    And some information on spawning aggregations:
    http://www.timgimages.com/PDF/Heyman_elements_for_building_eco_network.pdf

    There is another paper I can send you that just came out, but this is not in an open distribution network like the others. PM me and I will send you the 15 year study on MPA results in Africa.

    This is the first step in a long process. After the Working Group is done, the information goes to the SAC, and after that it goes to the staff for the Environmental Impact studies. At each segment of the process, public comment is welcome and encouraged.

    We have a long way to go (about two more years for this process), and need the input of all stakeholders at every step of the way.

    To put our sanctuary in perspective, please take a look at this document. This is a summary of all the condition reports from all of the marine sanctuaries in the nation. Relatively speaking, we do not fare well. Here is the link to the condition reports summary: National Marine Sanctuaries Condition Reports. The first report on the list is the summary report. Check the colors on the chart on pages 10-11 of the summary. The Florida Keys sanctuary is the most stressed of all the sanctuaries.
     
  10. mselenaous

    mselenaous Island girl ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Key Largo, FL... Dive Capital of the World
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    Netdoc and I are planning to attend the KL meeting. See you there.
     

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