Tortugas Ecological Reserve plan released

Joanne Delaney Joanne.Delaney at
Wed Nov 29 17:47:35 EST 2000

The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is pleased to announce the
release of the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement /
Supplemental Management Plan (FSEIS/SMP) for the Tortugas Ecological
Reserve (Florida, USA). The FSEIS/SMP represents the culmination of two
years of information gathering, citizen and agency collaboration, and
marine reserve design.

The FSEIS/SMP outlines a proposal to create a 151 square nautical mile
Tortugas Ecological Reserve in two sections.  Tortugas North would
include approximately 91 square nm, including Sherwood Forest, an area
of lush coral growth. Tortugas South would include 60 square nm
surrounding Riley’s Hump, capturing important spawning sites for snapper
and grouper, and deep water habitat for other valuable species.  The
regulations for the Tortugas Ecological Reserve would prohibit taking of
all marine life, as well as anchoring, mooring by vessels more than 100
feet in combined length and vessel discharge.  Access to Tortugas North
would be obtained through a no-cost, phone-in permit system.  Activities
in Tortugas South would be limited to permitted research or education
projects, and continuous transit by vessels with fishing gear stowed.
The new reserve will be intergrated into the existing three-level zone
monitoring program for the Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary received more than 4,000 comments on its draft plan for
the Tortugas Ecological Reserve, of which more than 90% supported the
no-take reserve as essential for protecting some of the healthiest and
most diverse coral reefs in the Florida Keys region.  The Sanctuary
plans to publish final regulations for the Tortugas Ecological Reserve
in January 2001.

The FSEIS/SMP for the Tortugas Ecological Reserve is available on-line
at  Paper copies are available from
the Marathon, FL (USA) office by calling (305) 743-2437.

Joanne M. Delaney
Research Interpreter
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
(305) 743-2437 x32
joanne.delaney at

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