Fishery Management Plan
Photo Credit: Arend Thibodeau
Updated November 2014
Biscayne National Park, the largest marine park in the National Park system, features a spectacular array of mangrove, coastal hammocks, seagrass, hardbottom, and coral reef habitats. The Park hosts both commercial and recreational fishers. Increases in South Florida's boating and fishing population combined with improved fishing and boating technology pose a threat to the long-term sustainability of fishery-related resources of BISC. Within the last decade, a variety of scientific studies completed by different institutions and agencies have all indicated that Biscayne National Park's fisheries resources have declined from previous levels, and all studies indicate concern about the long-term sustainability of the Park's fisheries resources. Many fishery-targeted species (particularly snapper and grouper species) that once were plentiful in Biscayne National Park have declined in abundance and/or size so substantially that legal-sized individuals of these species are now only rarely, if ever, observed in or harvested from park waters. In order to protect and restore Biscayne National Park's diminishing fisheries resources, ensure that fishing activities in the park are conducted in a sustainable manner, and comply with the National Park Service mandate to provide inspiration, education and enjoyment to this and future generations, the National Park Service has developed a Fishery Management Plan (FMP) to guide fishery management decisions in Biscayne National Park for the next five to ten years.
THE FMP FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT
In May of 2014, the National Park Service (NPS) announced the availability of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Biscayne National Park's Fishery Management Plan (FMP). Click here to access the plan. Five alternatives addressing concerns about the status and long-term conservation of the park's fisheries resources are described in the final EIS. The development of the alternatives and the identification of the preferred alternative were based on a combination of public input (derived from two public comment periods and two series of public meetings, and the input of the FMP Working Group), inter-agency meetings, and environmental and socioeconomic analyses. The alternatives are as follows:
In October of 2014, the NPS issued a Record of Decision identifying "Rebuild and Protect Park Fisheries Resources" as the Selected Alternative.
This plan is the result of a long history of consultation and coordination with cooperating agency, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. A detailed list of consultation and coordination efforts is available here.
Public input from 2002 to the present has been essential to the development and refinement of this plan. The FMP draft EIS was open for public comment during a 60-day public comment period in August through October of 2009. The NPS received numerous comments, all of which were evaluated and many of which were incorporated into the final EIS. There will be further opportunities for public comment as the cooperating agencies develop specific regulations for implementation. Regulations implemented by the National Park Service will be open for comment through the Federal Register; those implemented by the FWC will be open for public comment through the state's rulemaking process. The National Park Service values the public's interest in Biscayne National Park, and we look forward to implementing this plan with your support and collaboration.
For further information on the FMP developmental process or on specific information pertaining to the final EIS, contact the Park's Resource Management Division by phone at 305-230-1144.