Readers should be aware that certain of our federal legislators, specifically Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, have proposed legislation (S. 3099 and H.R. 5771, respectively) that, if enacted, would vitiate a key provision of the recently finalized general management plan for Biscayne National Park.
With the apparent support of Sen. Rubio and Rep. Curbelo, both bills have passed out of their Congressional committees and await floor action, and both will have the effect of prohibiting the establishment of a vital marine protective reserve within the National Park. This effort is misguided for several reasons:
1. Science has clearly demonstrated that fish stocks are very likely to recover if given an opportunity, and marine protected zones, which prohibit fishing, have demonstrated this chance.
2. The park’s general management plan is a matter of national concern. Politics, specifically the politicized Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, needs to stay out of this. Florida has no business managing this federal resource. Further, empowering the state in this regard creates a dangerous precedent for similar efforts in other national parks.
3. These federal legislators appear to have been swayed by the voices of the marine manufacturing and sportfishing trade associations, and a few commercial and recreational fisherman who are extremely shortsighted. Marine zones produce fish, and the more and bigger these zone(s) are, the healthier the fish populations are in nearby waters.
4. Fish stocks in the park, especially when compared to levels of less than a century ago, have collapsed. There is no one alive today that can remember the historic robustness and diversity of the marine resources of Biscayne Bay. Congress needs to honor the stated mission of our National Park System: to “preserve unimpaired these natural resources . . . for this and future generations.”
Dennis J. Olle,