WASHINGTON, D.C. – National Park Service Director Mary Bomar today applauded the decision by Florida Governor Jeb Bush and his cabinet to concur with final regulations for Dry Tortugas National Park that establish a no-take marine reserve in the park while leaving more than half the park open to recreational fishing.
The reserve, called a Research Natural Area, is 46 square nautical miles in size. Under the approved regulations, 54 square nautical miles of the park remain open to recreational fishing. Commercial fishing was banned in the park in 1935.
“Working closely with the state of Florida, we have developed regulations that will protect our fragile marine resources while preserving opportunities for public use,” said Bomar. “I am particularly pleased the plan was developed through a science-based cooperative process with extensive public involvement and that it is being implemented through a partnership with the state. This represents a significant step forward in restoring and protecting marine resources in the Florida Keys and beyond.”
The Research Natural Area will protect a pristine area, provide a sanctuary for species that have been affected by harvest or habitat degradation, and foster scientific research. It also will offer outstanding opportunities for non-consumptive recreation and education.
The National Park Service will work closely with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and other partners to monitor and adapt the management of the area to ensure its long-term protection and conservation.
“Under the approved regulations, the park will be protected for future generations while offering the public the opportunity to enjoy recreational fishing,” said Dan Kimball, the park’s superintendent. “Combined with the adjacent Tortugas Ecological Reserve, the protected area represents the largest no-take marine reserve in the continental United States.”