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The Florida Keys Marine Ecosystem Needs Your Help

There’s a proposal going through to NOAA, asking to expand the boundaries and increase the regulation on the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNS). Below you can find out why this proposal is important, what the proposal entails, and what you can do to help support it.


How Can You Help


1. Sign a petition that asks for the maximum protections of the marine sanctuary. (https://marinesanctuary.org/…/support-stronger-protection…/…)

2. Write a supportive message to NOAA on the Regulations website. This is the most effective method to support the proposal. Your message can be as simple as “Please take the most protective measures to save the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary”, or add some of your own personal flair to your message. (https://www.regulations.gov/docket…)

3. Share this information with your friends! The more people armed with knowledge the better.



Commenting closes January 31st. Thank you for making a difference!


Why Do We Care?


Marine Life: The FKNS supports high diversity (meaning a wide variety of fish, turtles, marine mammals, and shark species) due to the presence of both tropical and subtropical species, the largest seagrass habitat in North America, and a large barrier reef. Money: In addition to the hundreds of thousands of marine animals that rely on this ecosystem, approximately 60% of the $4.7 Billion Florida Keys economy is tied directly to marine-related activities. Motive: Unregulated human interaction with our oceans has had an immense negative impact on the ecosystem. As the reefs around the world decline due to climate change, pollution, and mismanagement, it is important that America set an example for how to positively care for the marine environment.


What is the Proposal?


The proposal suggests a huge remodel for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The current management of the sanctuary is based on a 1997 environmental impact statement and a 2007 revised management plan. 2007 is the year the first iPhone and Kindle came out, if our phones have improved drastically in that time, our environmental protections should too.

The proposal itself is 581 pages asking for: * Expansion of marine preservation areas * Targeted and site-specific protections * Testing of new restoration approaches * Enhancing of education programs * Increasing range of protected areas * Updating regulation policies * Facilitating restoration of endangered corals * And more


It's transformative.

There are four proposals, number one being status quo, and number four being the most extreme. NOAA recommends the third level. The committee will decide which level they choose to implement.


For those of you who are interested, I recommend downloading the proposal from the comment link and giving it a scan or a full read. Head to page xix for a summary, and page 77 for the detailed proposal maps.


What’s the Argument Against this Proposal?


There is pushback against the expansion of protected areas. Some protected areas are proposed to grow in size, some to turn into no entry zones, some to be limited to no anchor-zones, and some will only accessible to sustainable tour operators. Some Keys residents do not like the proposed changes because they limit individual access of the marine ecosystem. I sympathize with their frustration that they’re unable to have unlimited access to their blue backyard, but I still advocate for the increased protection. Humans have had unregulated enjoyment and exploitation of the ocean for decades, and it has led to declining fish populations, dying coral colonies, and unsafe water quality, to name a few consequences. If we insist that we have a right to unregulated use of the ocean and its resources, our children and grandchildren may not have the same privilege.


Increased protections have been shown to result in increased diversity and population numbers, and healthier ecosystems. These protections work, and in a time of anticipated further decline of our underwater environment it is our duty to put them into action, even if it means we as individuals lose something in the process.


Thank you for taking time to make a difference. Let us know if you took action for the ocean!



Links:

Sign the Petition: https://marinesanctuary.org/campaign/support-stronger-protection-and-restoration-in-the-florida-keys/?mc_cid=0f0b768fa8&mc_eid=464c51a5e3

Write Your Own Comment: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAA-NOS-2019-0094&mc_cid=0f0b768fa8&mc_eid=464c51a5e3 (Click Comment Now!)

Download the Document and Learn More: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAA-NOS-2019-0094&mc_cid=0f0b768fa8&mc_eid=464c51a5e3 (Click Florida Keys Draft EIS Restoration Blueprint)

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Contact

Shayna Cohen

The Sea Hugger

shayna@theseahugger.org

Key Largo, Florida 33037

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