This has been an issue for some time. Biscayne National Park has always been in the middle of a controversy between conservationists and commercial fishermen. On August 3, 2015, a hearing took place to discuss a marine reserve that would ban fishing in an area of the national park.
So far, according to State officials, more than twelve dozen hearings have been held and 43,000 emails have been sent regarding the balance between fishing and conservation in the area.
Biscayne National Park was created under a Bill proposed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on October 18, 1968 to protect “a rare combination of terrestrial, marine, and amphibious life in a tropical setting of great natural beauty”. According to conservation activists, in order to maintain marine life and give visitors a live experience, a marine reserve has to be created.
“A marine reserve is one of the most effective ways for the park to encourage restoration of the coral reef ecosystem,” the Park points out on its website. “In addition to producing larger fish and more fish for snorkelers and divers to enjoy, the marine reserve also is expected to have a spillover effect, improving the fishing experience outside the zone. The marine reserve concept received strong support from the public during development of the plan.”
As of September, 2015, the Park has approved the plans to build a no-fishing marine reserve. This reserve will cover 10,500 acres out of the 172,000 acres of the park. This represents 6% of park waters and less than 30% of the coral reefs.
Critics of the plans now say that the creation of this marine reserve will hurt the economy of fishermen. On the other hand, park officials say that this ban will enhance the experience of visitors and lure larger fish, which will increase the reef’s biodiversity.