Marine Zoning and Regulatory Review

Map of Conch Reef Sanctuary Preservation Area

In response to requests by the public, shifting environmental conditions and threats in the Keys, better scientific information, and legal requirements, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council is conducting a review of sanctuary regulations, including the rules and boundaries for marine zones in the sanctuary and surrounding national wildlife refuges.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Complex, which co-manages 20 of the sanctuary’s 27 Wildlife Management Areas, will also play a key role in the review while simultaneously updating its own Backcountry Management Plan.

The review is an ongoing process, continuing into 2016. Public input is an important component. If you are interested in becoming involved, you are encouraged to attend upcoming meetings and/or contact a representative on the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council.

During the initial public comment period in April – June 2012, the sanctuary solicited the public’s views on the direction the sanctuary should take to best protect and conserve the living marine resources and submerged cultural resources of the Florida Keys. The information gathered will help define the range of issues to be addressed during the marine zoning and regulatory review. Read the Federal Register Notice for more information on the scoping process.

FKNMS staff compiled and summarized the comments received during the scoping period into one document - Scoping Comments Summary (pdf 5 MB). Some comments have been listed in multiple categories. Additional materials such as maps or supporting reports and research submitted during the scoping period are available online in the regulations.gov docket. Due to formatting constraints for this summary, many of the maps, charts, and submitted material were not included but will be available during discussions and deliberations by the Advisory Council (and any subsequent working groups or workshops) on the related topics.

For additional information on the marine zoning and regulatory review, visit the links below.