U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s Oct. 9 opinion article, No-fishing zone no solution to coral loss, in which she assesses Biscayne National Park’s recently finalized General Management Plan (GMP) ignores the facts.
The GMP sets aside only 6 percent of park waters as a marine reserve. Within this area, no fishing will occur, but boating, snorkeling and diving will continue. Fishing will be allowed in the majority of park waters, and visitors will have a better experience because fish can recover in the marine reserve, creating a “spillover effect” that increases fish numbers throughout broader areas. Furthermore, protecting reefs from damage caused by fishing makes them healthier and more resilient to coral bleaching and disease.
Our travel and tourism industry is important for our economy. Healthy coral reefs and fisheries attract visitors who stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and use local services.
Additionally, Ros-Lehtinen incorrectly suggests Biscayne’s plan received little public support. In reality, this decision came after 15 years of extensive public engagement, scientific analysis and interagency cooperation. More than 90 percent of public comments supported the marine reserve, including comments from Miami-Dade County and local dive shops, businesses, and fishing experts.
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The economic and environmental benefits of the plan are clear. We should support this common-sense plan for Biscayne National Park.