Keys' coral reefs gain protection [Becomes first

Precht, Bill Bprecht at
Thu Nov 14 10:02:33 EST 2002

        y protected nautical zone in the United States and only the fifth
        de] (Palm Beach Post, 11/14/02).
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 2002 08:04:29 -0600
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Dear Coral-List:

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Keys' coral reefs gain protection

   By Larry Lipman
      Washington Bureau

   Palm Beach Post

Thursday, November 14, 2002

WASHINGTON -- The delicate coral reefs around the Florida Keys have
the first internationally protected nautical zone in the United States
only the fifth worldwide.

The designation by the International Maritime Organization was announced

The 3,000-square-nautical-mile zone is designed to protect the fragile
coral from anchors, groundings and collisions from large international
ships. The zone stretches from Biscayne National Park to the Dry
and encompasses all of the 2,500-square-nautical-mile Florida Keys
Marine Sanctuary, which was created a dozen years ago.

Gov. Jeb Bush called the zone's designation "yet another step to ensure
that our international shipping community is aware of the protections we
have put in place for this unique ecosystem. Florida has an important
natural resource that must be protected."

The waters around the Keys are among the world's most heavily trafficked
shipping areas, with more than 40 percent of the globe's commerce
through the Florida Straits each year. Since 1984, 10 large ships have
aground in the zone, and large ships or freighters improperly anchoring
the zone have damaged coral 17 times since 1997.

Beginning Dec. 1, ships longer than 164 feet will be advised to avoid
areas along the Keys and prohibited from anchoring in three areas around
the Dry Tortugas. There are areas where large ships can approach reach

Future nautical charts are expected to show the zone -- known as the
Florida Keys' Particularly Sensitive Sea Area -- and include information
about the restrictions.

"This protective status makes the international shipping community aware
the coral reefs and increases compliance with domestic measures already
place to protect the area, while not hindering trade and commerce," said
Samuel Bodman, deputy secretary of the U.S. Commerce Department.

A Commerce Department agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, announced the designation made by the International
Maritime Organization. The organization, a U.N. agency, oversees
international shipping issues.

The American shipping industry hailed the designation as a balanced
approach to protecting nature while allowing continued commerce.

"It is imperative that the maritime industry support environmental
protection initiatives that maintain the ability to continue efficient,
effective and environmentally responsible marine transportation," said
Cox, president of the Chamber of Shipping of America, which represents
U.S.-based shipping companies.

The U.S. has declared no-anchoring areas in the Dry Tortugas since 1997,
but many foreign vessels traveling through the area do not carry
made charts designating the zone. The new designation means the zone now
will appear on international navigation charts.

The four other particularly sensitive sea areas are: the Great Barrier
Reef, Australia; the Sabana-Camaguey Archipelago, Cuba; Malpelo Island,
Colombia; and the Wadden Sea off Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany.

larryl at

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