A no-fishing area of 16 square miles in Biscayne National Park will draw the attention of congressional members at a Monday hearing in Homestead.
The 10 a.m. hearing at Homestead's William F. Dickinson Community Center is to take testimony on the proposed Preserving Public Access to Public Waters Act. The bill would allow state fishery managers to block fishing closures in state waters that lie within national parks.
Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who represents the Florida Keys and parts of Miami-Dade County, is among the bill's 31 sponsors. Curbelo plans to attend the Homestead session, called by the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Small Business.
Ernie Piton, president of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association, will speak on his group's opposition to the new marine reserve, adopted in Biscayne National Park's new management plan. Many recreational fishing organizations also seek to block the proposal, which they say covers about 40 percent of prime angling areas.
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The state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also dislikes the zone, which lies a few miles north of North Key Largo.
The National Parks Conservation Association strongly endorses the marine reserve, gaining support from ocean environmental leaders including Sylvia Earle and Jean Michel Cousteau.
Ten invited witnesses will speak Monday but no public comment will be taken. The community center is at 1601 N. Krome Ave. in Homestead.