Sanctuary Testimony

John Ogden jogden at
Tue Jan 14 11:18:46 EST 1997

The following testimony was delivered yesterday, January 13, to a
meeting of the aides to Governor Chiles and the Cabinet in
Tallahassee.  On January 28, the Governor and Cabinet will meet
to sign off on a cooperative management agreement with NOAA to
administer the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

This plan needs support.  Those who are inclined are urged to
write to the Governor asking his endorsement of the Sanctuary
Management Plan.  


     My name is John Ogden and I am Director of the Florida
Institute of Oceanography (FIO) and Professor of Biology at the
University of South Florida.  The FIO is a Type I institute of
the State University System representing the marine scientists of
the 9 state universities, the Florida Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP), the Florida Sea Grant Program, and the
University of Miami.  We operate two oceanographic ships, the R/V
Bellows (71 ft.) and the R/V Suncoaster (102 ft.) and the Keys
Marine Laboratory in partnership with DEP.  The FIO is also a
focal point for the development and funding of multi-disciplinary
projects of importance to Florida and the Caribbean region in
coastal oceanographic research and education.   

     After Congress created the Florida Keys National Marine
Sanctuary (FKNMS) in 1990, I was appointed by the Secretary of
Commerce to serve on the Sanctuary Advisory Council to provide
scientific input into the 6 year effort to develop the Management
Plan which is before you today.  During this period research
projects developed and funded by the FIO and carried out by
marine scientists from Florida's universities and agencies raised
the issues of coral reef decline, degrading water quality, and
the connection between the health of Florida Bay and the health
of the contiguous waters of the Sanctuary.  


     I would like to make three points.  First, I want to discuss
the importance and uniqueness of the process that created the
Sanctuary.  In my opinion it is an example of participatory
democracy at its best.  The Management Plan in front of you is
exemplary of a local, state and federal partnership for the
sustainable use of marine resources.  Second, I want to highlight
two key Action Plans, Water Quality and Zoning, of the ten
contained in the overall Plan, which are controversial,
expensive, and politically sensitive precisely because they are
likely to be effective.  Finally, I want to emphasize that this
Plan provides unique opportunities for the natural and social
scientists of Florida's academic institutions and government
agencies to create a powerhouse of knowledge and experience in
coastal management in Florida which will lead the nation.


     In 1991, a marine resource management planning process of
unprecedented size and complexity was implemented in the FKNMS by
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),
centering on the Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC), a broadly
representative group of local stakeholders.  The SAC was
supported by an interagency group of Federal, State, and local
agencies and directed by a NOAA team from the Sanctuaries and
Reserves Division.  From 1991-1993, the SAC held many meetings in
the Keys working through a management plan development process
devoted to identification of problem areas and of short- and
long-term management actions, including their operational
requirements.  Public input was sought at every step and there
were hundreds of people who gave detailed testimony.  In late
1993, the SAC adopted a draft management plan which was published
by NOAA in March 1995.  The draft was reviewed in an exhaustive
series of public hearings, workshops, local TV broadcasts, and
small group meetings over the next 9 months.  In December 1995,
the SAC, using input from public hearings, made its final
recommendations to NOAA and the present Plan was published late
last summer.

     This was a grassroots effort.  The SAC, composed of local
business people, fishers, divers, treasure salvors, and
environmentalists was extraordinarily influential in the process. 
By outreach of the SAC members to their constituencies there
isn't anyone in the community who can truthfully say that he or
she had no opportunity to be heard.  There were literally
hundreds of venues that were created over the 6 year process.  In
fact, one could argue that for a national resource, the citizens
of Monroe County had almost too much influence.  However, I hope
that they can take justifiable pride in their accomplishment.


     The Plan recognizes that human alteration of the land is a
major cause of declining water quality.  Poor land-use destroys
the buffering of coastal forests and vegetation leaving nearshore
waters unprotected from land runoff, changing formerly "gin
clear" coastal waters to those clouded by plankton blooms and
sediments which can kill organisms such as corals which require
clear, clean waters to thrive.  The dependency on on-site sewage
disposal systems and even open cesspits for the exponentially
growing number of homes, condominiums, and hotels elevated
nutrients in nearshore waters and stimulated smothering and toxic
algal blooms.  

     Water quality in the Sanctuary is also dependent upon
Florida Bay which, in turn, is linked to the Everglades, Lake
Okeechobee, and the drainage system of the Kissimmee River. 
These interdependencies were the impetus for the Secretary of the
Interior to create the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task
Force.  By emphasizing these linkages, the Task Force has drawn
the region into national prominence as the place where the
holistic approach of ecosystem management will be first attempted
at a regional scale.  

     For hundreds of years we have used zoning to avoid land-use
conflicts.  The ocean, by contrast is a "commons," available
freely to all but the responsibility of none.  Following on the
success of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Australia, the
largest in the world, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Management Plan uses zoning to separate potentially conflicting
uses.  Of the several types of zones in the Plan, the Ecological
Reserves proved to be the most controversial for their size and
for the economic and social impact of no permitted harvesting. 
In the final stages of public discussion of the Plan, politically
organized recreational and commercial fishers removed two of
three Ecological Reserves from the Plan in 1995 leaving only one
small reserve in the Western Sambos near Key West.

     This remaining reserve is critically important to the large
number of people who expect to have undisturbed areas to visit in
a region disturbed by many uses.  A large grouper in this reserve
will be more valuable being seen by snorkelers than it would be
on a fishing line.  The reserve will be a natural laboratory for
Florida's natural and social scientists.  It will be the only
effective tool we have to gather baseline data from undisturbed,
unharvested areas so the impact of harvest and disturbance in the
rest of the Sanctuary can be assessed.  Scientists predict that
the reserve will build up within 3-5 years populations of larger
size classes of fishery species, increasing both the reproductive
output of larvae and their genetic diversity.  But most
importantly, the reserve is an experiment to see if a small,
strategically-placed, undisturbed area can provide
"replenishment" to the fished and disturbed resources outside its
boundaries.  There is a consensus of fishers, managers and
scientists that ecological reserves work in this way, and there
are examples of early successes from other countries including
New Zealand, Australia, Kenya, and several Caribbean nations.  


     Florida has one of the longest, most complex, and most
highly populated coastlines in the country.  Florida's agencies
and academic institutions face daily confrontation with virtually
every issue of public interaction with the marine environment. 
These often demand complicated, expensive, and/or politically
sensitive solutions.  Over the past five years of development of
the Sanctuary Management Plan and the emergence of the Everglades
restoration as a national commitment, Floridians have begun to
develop a sense of the vulnerability of the coastal ocean and of
their role as stewards of a national resource.  However, no
resources management plan of this scale has ever been attempted
and there are powerful forces arrayed against the concept of
limiting growth and regulating human behavior for sustainable use
of the environment.  Florida must demonstrate the political will
to take the opportunity for leadership afforded by the Sanctuary
Management Plan.  Until this happens, our leadership will be in
question and the fate of the "American Tropics" will remain in

John C. Ogden        Director        Phone:  813/893-9100
Florida Institute of Oceanography    Fax:    813/893-9109
830 First Street South               St. Petersburg, Florida 33701

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