Cheva Heck Cheva.Heck at noaa.gov
Mon Feb 21 17:03:59 EST 2005

NOAA 05-R410

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 15th, 2005

Contact: Cheva Heck
              Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
              305.292.0311, ext. 26
              305.304.0179 (cell)

                                         NOAA RELEASES REVISED FLORIDA

NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, announces the
availability of the draft revised management plan for the Florida Keys
National Marine Sanctuary for public review andcomment.  NOAA is an
agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

ìThe changes weíre proposing to the sanctuaryís management plan will
ensure that our management strategies are keeping pace with the
challenges facing our marine environment,î said sanctuary superintendent
Billy Causey.  ìWe encourage everyone who is interested in the future of
the Florida Keys coral reef ecosystem to review and comment on the
proposed revisions.î

Changes to the management plan include the addition of four new action
plans: science management and administration; natural resource damage
assessment and restoration; day-to-day sanctuary operations, including
administration, community outreach and policy coordination; and
evaluation of sanctuary activities.

The revised plan also calls for an increase in the number of enforcement
positions; larger mooring buoys in deeper water to accommodate larger
vessels; a focus on high priority infrastructure wastewater and
stormwater management projects; increased socioeconomic research
efforts; regional ecosystem research and monitoring; evaluation of
marine zone uses; and identification of possible regulatory changes to
ensure consistency with state regulations.

The document also outlines sanctuary accomplishments since its
designation in 1990 and actions in the original 1997 management plan
that have been completed. Major accomplishments include: a reduction in
large ship groundings; improved water quality protection; improved
response to vessel groundings and the restoration of damaged habitat;
efforts to protect maritime heritage resources; increasing the number of
mooring buoys; the marking of sanctuary zones; and improving waterway

NOAA will accept comments on the draft revised management plan through
April 15, 2005.  Copies of the draft revised management plan are
available by mail, at all three sanctuary offices, and on the sanctuary
web site at http://floridakeys.noaa.gov.  The sanctuary offices are a
located at: 216 Ann Street, Key West, (305) 292-0311; 5550 Overseas
Highway (gulfside), Marathon (follow road to main house at the end),
(305) 743-2437; and 95230 Overseas Highway (bayside), Key Largo, (305)

The sanctuary also will hold three public hearings on the revisions to
the plan.  The hearings will be open house format and participants may
come and go at any time. Staff will be available to explain changes to
the plan. Both oral and written comments will be accepted and a Spanish
translator will be available.  The hearing dates and locations are:

Monday, March 28, 2005; 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
Monroe County Government Center, BOCC Meeting Room
2798 Overseas Highway (gulfside)

Tuesday, March 29, 2005; 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
Key Largo Library Meeting Room
Mile Marker 101.4, Tradewinds Shopping Plaza (oceanside)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005; 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
Harvey Government Center Meeting Room
1200 Truman Avenue, corner of Truman and White streets, Key West

The National Marine Sanctuaries Act requires all sanctuaries to review
their management plans every five years.  In addition, the State of
Florida required a five year review of the sanctuary management plan as
part of its approval of the plan for state waters in 1997.  The
sanctuary held hearings in summer of 2001 to determine what revisions
were necessary. Sanctuary staff, advisory council members and others
formed working groups to develop plan revisions, which were approved by
the full sanctuary advisory council, NOAA and the State of Florida.
After the public comment period closes, NOAA will consider the comments
received and respond to them in the final document.

Designated in 1990, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects
2,900 square nautical miles of coral reefs, seagrass meadows, hardbottom
communities, mangrove shorelines and mud and sand habitat. NOAAís
National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) and the State of Florida
jointly manage the sanctuary.  The NMSP seeks to increase the public
awareness of Americaís maritime heritage by conducting scientific
research, monitoring, exploration, and educational programs.  Today, 13
national marine sanctuaries encompass more than 18,000 square miles of
Americaís ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

The NOAA Ocean Service (NOS; http://www.nos.noaa.gov) manages the NMSP,
and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving, and restoring
the nationís coasts and oceans.  NOS balances environmental protection
with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe
navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats,
and mitigating coastal hazards.

More information about the Coral-List mailing list