Laws & Policies

Law dictates many of the decisions made in everyday park management. The National Park Service Organic Act of 1916, the law that created the agency, is seen by many as being the driving force for park management. It states that the agency's purpose is: conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects, and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

But there are many other laws that regulate national parks as well, including the Endangered Species Act, the Historic Sites Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act, to name a few. Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) is the most comprehensive listing of rules in national parks. The CFR is where to look for information on the prohibition on personal watercraft use in most National Park Service areas, including Biscayne.

Additionally, each national park in the system has at least one law, called its Enabling Legislation, which deals specifically with that park. Such legislation offers general guidance about managing the park, but doesn't usually address specific issues.

Park superintendents have been given authority to establish certain rules within a park. Collectively known as the Superintendent's Compendium, these rules cover items such as long and short-term closures, limits on public uses, preservation of resources, fishing, camping and speed limits. There is an amendment to the Superintendent's Compendium concerning unmanned aircraft.

The park's General Management Plan sets a course for managing the park over a period of 10-20 years. This document is prepared with input from those who often know the park best - its visitors.

Although Biscayne National Park is an agency of the Federal Government, fishing within park boundaries is governed by Florida State Law. The State has issued special prohibitions and regulations that pertain specifically to Biscayne National Park, such as collection of tropical ornamental fish. Anglers are advised to become thoroughly familiar with all fishing regulations before heading out. Learn more on our Fishing and Lobstering page.

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