As the director of Wildlife Rescue of Dade County, I — and my organization — support the general-management plan proposed by Biscayne National Park.
There have been a few, loud, special-interest groups that have made a lot of noise about their rights being trampled on. But in 15 years of collecting public comments about the (then) proposed plan, the National Park Service collected more than 42,000 comments. Of those, approximately 38,000 were in favor of the plan. But a loud minority of 4,000 has the audacity to say that they are being stepped on?
Those shortsighted few claim that their right to fish is being infringed upon. I say they have no such right. None of us has any such right anymore than we have a right to drive a car.
Our national parks are among the most sacred places that we have. With no protection, the last remaining coral reefs in North America will be destroyed by careless fishermen dragging their lines and anchors across them.
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Without a protected place for the fish to breed, there will be no more fish. These places need to be off limits to fishing before the greedy few push them over the edge to extinction. They say that fishing has never been better and that the science on which the park services plan was developed is outdated and nonexistent.
When they have no more fish to catch, these same people will blame the National Park Service for having failed to protect their rights from the others who took their fish away.
U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo are supporting the minority against the wishes of the majority, which demands respect and reverence for our parks. They do so claiming that their position will save a few jobs. I ask them, where will those jobs go when the last fish has been removed from the park? If they truly want to save jobs, then they will act to preserve the park’s populations for future generations instead of giving it all away to those who care only about what they can catch today.
If the Biscayne General Management Plan is enacted and the areas are placed off limits, the fishermen will win in the long term even if they might never admit it.
But that day will come when they think to themselves, “Wow, this really was the right thing to do.” That day will be many years in the future when their grandsons and granddaughters catch their first fish instead of asking, “What did it used to be like?”
Lloyd Brown, director,
Wildlife Rescue of Dade County, Miami