FKNMS Management Plan

John Ogden jogden at
Fri Dec 15 11:13:49 EST 1995

The following Open Letter sent to the Miami Herald and the Key West  
Citizen is FYI. 

December 14, 1995 

An Open Letter to the Commercial Fishermen of the Florida Keys: 

As most of you know, this week the Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC) 
of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary finished its task of 
reviewing the 10 Action Plans which form the Management Plan of the 
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.  These were revised over 
the past year in a series of community meetings led by SAC members.  
The Plan approved by the Council on December 12 will help to insure 
that the fragile marine environment of the Keys will sustain and 
enrich the lives of future generations.  The approved Plan is the 
culmination of 4 years of effort on the part of the SAC members who 
worked hard to integrate the interests and concerns of their 
various constituencies in a complicated, controversial, and 
politically-charged task. 

Fishermen's interests were ably represented by Tony Iarocci, 
Michael Laudicina, SAC Chair Michael Collins, and by the many 
fishermen who took valuable time away from their businesses to 
attend hearings and meetings and to testify in a constructive 
manner on the plan.  In fact, it is fair to say that fishermen, 
more than any other constituency, defined the Management Plan that 
we all hope will be signed by the Governor at the end of 1996.   

However, in my opinion the virtual elimination of the Replenishment 
Reserves by the organized, disciplined, and effective campaign 
against them seriously compromises the intent of the plan to 
sustain the harvest of fisheries resources in the future.  We need 
at least three relatively small, representative Replenishment 
Reserves strategically placed in the Upper and Lower Keys and in 
the Dry Tortugas.  The approved plan eliminated the Upper Keys 
Reserve and left the one in the Dry Tortugas in limbo waiting 
action by the National Park Service.  There is only one effective 
Reserve, a sliver of habitat from shore to the reef edge in the 

The Reserves are critical to gather baseline data from undisturbed, 
unharvested areas so we can assess the impact of harvest and 
disturbance in the rest of the Sanctuary.  Reserves are also an 
experiment, one that the world is watching, to see if small, 
strategically placed unharvested areas can provide "replenishment" 
to the harvested resources outside its boundaries.  There is a 
scientific consensus that the Reserves will work, and there are 
examples of early success from other countries including New 
Zealand, Australia, Kenya, and many Caribbean nations.  

You don't have to be told that the Keys fishery resources are 
vulnerable; fishermen have seen this from yearly catches.  What may 
not be well known is that reefs appear to be particularly sensitive 
to the removal of the large size classes of snappers and groupers 
as well as parrotfishes.  This disrupts the balance of the reef and 
leads to elimination of corals and to dominance of the reefs by 
algae.  This is a condition that we are seeing nearly everywhere in 
the Keys.  The Replenishment Reserves are the only tool that we 
have to assess these impacts and to define strategies that will 
sustain the fisheries harvest.  

I ask each of you to reconsider your position with respect to the 
Replenishment Reserves.  Talk with each other and with your leaders 
and work with NOAA to place at least three Reserves in the 
Sanctuary-- one in each of the major representative habitats of the 
Keys.  If this is accomplished we can continue the cooperative 
interaction among the fishing industry, management agencies, and 
the science community that has given us a remarkable and exemplary 
Management Plan for the marine resources of the Keys. 

Thank you for your consideration, congratulations on your very 
effective and informative work, and Season's Greetings to all. 


John C. Ogden 
Member SAC for Science 

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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