You may be aware that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is proposing a Fisheries Management Plan for Biscayne National Park in South Florida. On July 17-18 in Stuart, FWC staff will introduce two recommended diving-related regulations as part of their proposed Plan; FWC will recommend that spear fishing and the two-day lobster mini-season be eliminated in the Park.
DEMA believes FWC sees this as an opportunity to restrict Park diving activities, while placing the burden on divers for reaching FWC’s arbitrary goal of increasing the size and abundance of fishery species in the Park by 20%. Species size and abundance are not related to diving activities in the Park, and certainly not to selective activities such as spear fishing or individual divers taking their ALREADY-regulated limit of properly sized lobster. Within their own presentation, FWC clearly states that the issues of management of the Park are related to the Park’s proximity to urban areas, reduced water quality, marine debris, vessel groundings and fishing pressure.
We believe FWC’s proposed actions are the first step in their ultimate goal of eliminating the two-day mini lobster season altogether, across the entire state.
In addition to the July meetings, FWC has scheduled a series of workshops on August 6 – 8, 2019 to allow public comment on this Plan for Biscayne National Park. We strongly urge you to attend these August meetings and to write directly to the FWC and ask them to remove these unnecessary restrictions on vital diving activities in the Park.These recommendations are believed to be part of the ongoing FWC effort to create restrictions on diving elsewhere in Florida, and failing any research to the contrary, these constraints should not be put in place. If divers do not appear at these hearings, in opposition to this effort, FWC will assume there is no opposition to their ideas of restricting traditional scuba diving activities.
DEMA, the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association, is an international organization dedicated to the sustained growth of the recreational scuba diving and snorkeling industry. For more information on DEMA, call 858-616-6408 or visit www.dema.org.